The role of hemoglobin in arterial narrowing after subarachnoid hemorrhage

Marc R. Mayberg M.D.1, Tomohisa Okada M.D.1, and Don H. Bark Ph.D.1
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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Washington, Seattle Veterans Administration Medical Center, Seattle, Washington
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✓ A porcine model for subarachnoid hemorrhage has been developed to allow the selective application of blood and its components to cerebral arteries. Whole blood was centrifuged to produce two fractions consisting of washed erythrocytes (red blood cells, RBC's) and white blood cells (WBC) plus platelet-rich plasma (PRP); the RBC fraction was subsequently separated into hemoglobin (Hb)-containing cytosol and erythrocyte membranes. Each fraction was selectively applied to the middle cerebral artery (MCA) of pigs for 10 days; after which, vessels were perfusion-fixed and examined by light and transmission electron microscopy and immunohistochemical studies. By morphometric analysis, a marked reduction in the MCA lumen cross-sectional area was observed after selective application of RBC's or Hb/cytosol but not of WBC/PRP or erythrocyte membranes. In both RBC- and Hb/cytosol-treated vessels, luminal narrowing was associated with a differential increase in vessel wall thickness of the ventral (subarachnoid) compared to the dorsal (brain) aspect of the artery, but no significant change in cross-sectional area of the vessel wall. After 10 days of exposure to RBC's or Hb/cytosol, there was a spectrum of ultrastructural changes in the vessel wall comparable to those seen after periadventitial application of whole blood. Selective application of commercially available Hb to MCA produced similar structural and morphometric changes. The degree of luminal narrowing after exposure to whole blood or RBC's was proportional to the volume of the erythrocyte mass adjacent to the vessel at sacrifice. These data suggest that arterial narrowing after SAH is mediated by mechanisms related to prolonged exposure of the vessel wall to hemoglobin or its catabolites from lysing subarachnoid erythrocytes.

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Contributor Notes

Dr. Mayberg is a recipient of Clinical Investigator Development Award NS01191-01.

Address reprint requests to: Marc R. Mayberg, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery (112NS), Seattle Veterans Administration Medical Center, 1660 S. Columbian Way, Seattle, Washington 98108.
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