Topical β-blockers, such as timolol, have been used extensively in the medical treatment of glaucoma to lower intraocular pressure (IOP). Recently, these drugs have been shown to have effects on the retinal and optic nerve circulation as well as potential neuroprotective properties. In the current study, the concentration of timolol attained in the cornea, iris-ciliary body, retina, vitreous, and plasma was measured after topical or intraperitoneal administration in rats to determine the relative contributions of each route to intraocular timolol concentrations.
Materials and Methods
One group of rats received one drop of commercially available 0.5% timolol in the right eye and two drops in the left eye for 3 to 12 days. Another group of rats received one drop of 0.5% timolol in one eye only and concentrations were studied in the ocular tissues at 15, 30, 60, 120, and 240 minutes after instillation. The final group of rats received a single intraperitoneal injection of timolol ranging in concentration from 5 to 75 mg/kg after which tissue and plasma concentrations were measured 30 minutes after injection. All tissue and plasma concentrations were measured by high performance liquid chromatography.
Rats that received topical timolol daily for 3 to 12 consecutive days accumulated timolol concentrations of 2.3 to 4.4 μg/g in cornea, 198 to 326 μg/g in iris, 0.05 to 0.11 μg/ml in vitreous, and 0.17 to 0.77 μg/g in retina. In rats that received a single drop of timolol in one eye, the tissue concentrations were higher in the treated eye than in the untreated eye in all cases except for vitreous. In these experiments, timolol levels in plasma were either low or not detectable. Increasing timolol doses administered intraperitoneally resulted in corresponding increased tissue and plasma concentrations.
Absorption of drug into the systemic circulation plays a significant role in delivering timolol to the retina and vitreous in addition to a local ocular route. A clear dose-response relationship exists in all ocular tissues studied after an intraperitoneal dose of timolol. High doses of timolol were required to achieve measurable concentrations of drug in the ocular tissues via our high performance liquid chromatography assay suggesting that a significant hepatic first-pass effect may be involved after an intraperitoneal injection of timolol.