Many groups have reported lymphatic and glymphatic structures in animal and human brains, but tracer injection into the human brain to demonstrate real-time lymphatic drainage and mapping has not been described. We enrolled patients undergoing standard-of-care resection or stereotactic biopsy for suspected intracranial tumors. Patients received peritumoral injections of 99mTc-tilmanocept followed by planar or tomographic imaging. Fourteen patients with suspected brain tumors were enrolled. One was excluded from analysis because of tracer leakage during injection. There was no drainage of 99mTc-tilmanocept to regional lymph nodes in any of the patients. On average, after correcting for radioactive decay, 70.7% (95% CI: 59.9%, 81.6%) of the tracer in the injection site and 78.1% (95% CI: 71.1%, 85.1%) in the whole-head on the day of surgery remained the morning after, with variable radioactivity in the subarachnoid space. The retained fraction was much greater than expected based on the clearance rate from non-brain injection sites. In this pilot study, the lymphatic tracer 99mTc-tilmanocept was injected into the brain parenchyma, and there was no drainage outside the brain to the cervical lymph nodes. Our work demonstrates an inefficiency of drainage from peritumoral brain parenchyma and highlights a therapeutic opportunity to improve immunosurveillance of the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1389
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Brain
  • glymphatics
  • lymphatics
  • neuroimmunology
  • tilmanocept


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