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Carla S. Jung, Edward H. Oldfield, Judith Harvey-White, Michael G. Espey, Michael Zimmermann, Volker Seifert, and Ryszard M. Pluta


Delayed cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) may be evoked by the decreased availability of nitric oxide (NO). Increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of asymmetric dimethyl-l-arginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of NO synthase (NOS), have been associated with the course and degree of cerebral vasospasm in a primate model of SAH. In this study, the authors sought to determine if similar changes in CSF ADMA levels are observed in patients with SAH, and whether these changes are associated with NO and NOS metabolite levels in the CSF and the presence of cerebral vasospasm.


Asymmetric dimethyl-l-arginine, l-arginine, l-citrulline, and nitrite levels were measured in CSF and serum samples collected during the 21-day period after a single aneurysmal SAH in 18 consecutive patients. Samples were also obtained in a control group consisting of seven patients with Chiari malformation Type I and five patients with spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage without SAH. Vasospasm, defined as a greater than 11% reduction in the anterior circulation vessel diameter ratio compared with the ratio calculated from the initial arteriogram, was assessed on cerebral arteriography performed around Day 7.


In 13 patients with SAH, arteriographic cerebral vasospasm developed. Cerebrospinal fluid ADMA levels in patients with SAH were higher than in those in the control group (p < 0.001). The CSF ADMA level remained unchanged in the five patients with SAH without vasospasm, but was significantly increased in patients with vasospasm after Day 3 (6.2 ± 1.7 μM) peaking during Days 7 through 9 (13.3 ± 6.7 μM; p < 0.001) and then gradually decreasing between Days 12 and 21 (8.8 ± 3.2 μM; p < 0.05). Nitrite levels in the CSF were lower in patients with vasospasm compared to patients without vasospasm (p < 0.03). Cerebrospinal fluid ADMA levels positively correlated with the degree of vasospasm (correlation coefficient [CC] = 0.88, p = 0.0001; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.74–0.95) and negatively correlated with CSF nitrite levels (CC = −0.55; p = 0.017; 95% CI −0.81 to −0.12).


These results support the hypothesis that ADMA is involved in the progression of cerebral vasospasm. Asymmetric dimethyl-l-arginine and its metabolizing enzymes may be a future target for treatment of cerebral vasospasm after SAH.

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Hartmut Vatter, Juergen Konczalla, Stefan Weidauer, Christine Preibisch, Michael Zimmermann, Andreas Raabe, and Volker Seifert


The key role in the development of cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is increasingly assigned to endothelin (ET)-1. Constriction of the cerebrovasculature by ET-1 is mainly mediated by the ETA receptor but is putatively altered during the development of cerebral vasospasm. Therefore, the aim in the present study was to characterize these alterations, with the emphasis on the ETA receptor.


Cerebral vasospasm was induced using the rat double-hemorrhage model and proven by perfusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Rats were killed on Day 5 after SAH, and immunohistochemical staining for ETA receptors was performed. The isometric force of basilar artery ring segments with (E+, control group) and without (E−, SAH group) endothelial function was measured. Concentration effect curves (CECs) for ET-1 were constructed by cumulative application in the absence and presence of the selective ETA receptor antagonist clazosentan (10−8 or 10−7 M).


The CEC for E+ segments was significantly shifted to the left after SAH by a factor of 3.7, whereas maximum contraction was unchanged. In E− segments, the CECs were not shifted during cerebral vasospasm but the maximum contraction was significantly enhanced. The inhibitory potency of clazosentan yielded a pA2 value of 8.6 ± 0.2. Immunohistochemical staining of the smooth-muscle layer showed no significant increase of ETA receptor expression, but positive staining occurred in the endothelial space after SAH.


The present data indicate an enhanced contractile effect of the smooth-muscle ETA receptors in cases of cerebral vasospasm. The inhibitory potency of clazosentan on this contraction is increased. Furthermore, some evidence for an ETA receptor and an endothelium-dependent vasoactive effect after SAH is provided.

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Andreas Raabe, Jügen Beck, Mike Keller, Hartmuth Vatter, Michael Zimmermann, and Volker Seifert

Object. Hypervolemia and hypertension therapy is routinely used for prophylaxis and treatment of symptomatic cerebral vasospasm at many institutions. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing debate about the preferred modality (hypervolemia, hypertension, or both), the degree of therapy (moderate or aggressive), and the risk or benefit of hypervolemia, moderate hypertension, and aggressive hypertension in patients following subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Methods. Monitoring data and patient charts for 45 patients were retrospectively searched to identify periods of hypervolemia, moderate hypertension, or aggressive hypertension. Measurements of central venous pressure, fluid input, urine output, arterial blood pressure, intracranial pressure, and oxygen partial pressure (PO2) in the brain tissue were extracted from periods ranging from 1 hour to 24 hours. For these periods, the change in brain tissue PO2 and the incidence of complications were analyzed.

During the 55 periods of moderate hypertension, an increase in brain tissue PO2 was found in 50 cases (90%), with complications occurring in three patients (8%). During the 25 periods of hypervolemia, an increase in brain oxygenation was found during three intervals (12%), with complications occurring in nine patients (53%). During the 10 periods of aggressive hypervolemic hypertension, an increase in brain oxygenation was found during six of the intervals (60%), with complications in five patients (50%).

Conclusions. When hypervolemia treatment is applied as in this study, it may be associated with increased risks. Note, however, that further studies are needed to determine the role of this therapeutic modality in the care of patients with cerebral vasospasm. In poor-grade patients, moderate hypertension (cerebral perfusion pressure 80–120 mm Hg) in a normovolemic, hemodiluted patient is an effective method of improving cerebral oxygenation and is associated with a lower complication rate compared with hypervolemia or aggressive hypertension therapy.

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Hartmut Vatter, Michael Zimmermann, Veronika Tesanovic, Andreas Raabe, Lothar Schilling, and Volker Seifert

Object. The central role of endothelin (ET)—1 in the development of cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage is indicated by the successful treatment of this vasospasm in several animal models by using selective ETA receptor antagonists. Clazosentan is a selective ETA receptor antagonist that provides for the first time clinical proof that ET-1 is involved in the pathogenesis of cerebral vasospasm. The aim of the present investigation was, therefore, to define the pharmacological properties of clazosentan that affect ETA receptor—mediated contraction in the cerebrovasculature.

Methods. Isometric force measurements were performed in rat basilar artery (BA) ring segments with (E+) and without (E−) endothelial function. Concentration effect curves (CECs) were constructed by cumulative application of ET-1 or big ET-1 in the absence or presence of clazosentan (10−9, 10−8, and 10−7 M). The inhibitory potency of clazosentan was determined by the value of the affinity constant (pA2).

The CECs for contraction induced by ET-1 and big ET-1 were shifted to the right in the presence of clazosentan in a parallel dose-dependent manner, which indicates competitive antagonism. The pA2 values for ET-1 were 7.8 (E+) and 8.6 (E−) and the corresponding values for big ET-1 were 8.6 (E+) and 8.3 (E−).

Conclusions. The present data characterize clazosentan as a potent competitive antagonist of ETA receptor—mediated constriction of the cerebrovasculature by ET-1 and its precursor big ET-1. These functional data may also be used to define an in vitro profile of an ET receptor antagonist with a high probability of clinical efficacy.

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Hartmut Vatter, Michael Zimmermann, Veronika Tesanovic, Andreas Raabe, Volker Seifert, and Lothar Schilling

Object. The disturbed balance between nitric oxide and endothelin (ET)—1 in the cerebrovasculature seems to play a major role in the development of cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage. Endothelin-1 represents the contractile part in this balance. In addition to the prevailing ETA receptor—dependent contractile effect, ET-1 also has ETB receptor—mediated vasodilatory attributes. The aim of the present study was to define the actual selectivity of clazosentan, the first putative highly ETA receptor—selective antagonist clinically proven to be effective in the treatment of vasospasm in the cerebrovasculature.

Methods. Rat basilar artery ring segments with endothelial function were used for the measurement of isometric force. Concentration effect curves were constructed by cumulative application of sarafotoxin S6c, ET-1, or big ET-1 in the presence or absence of clazosentan (10−9 to 10−6 M) after a precontraction was induced by prostaglandin F. The inhibition by clazosentan was estimated by the value of the affinity constant (pA2).

The relaxation induced by sarafotoxin S6c, ET-1, and big ET-1 was inhibited in a competitive manner by clazosentan, yielding pA2 values of 7.1, 6.7, and 6.5, respectively. The selectivity to the ETA receptor in the cerebrovascular system was approximately two logarithmic units.

Conclusions. The present investigation shows a competitive inhibition of ETB receptor—mediated relaxation in cerebral vessels by clazosentan in therapeutically relevant concentrations. Thus, additional clinical trials should be undertaken to evaluate clazosentan concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid. Furthermore, the present data may be taken to describe the pharmacological properties for an ET receptor antagonist specifically tailored for the treatment of pathological conditions of impaired cerebral blood flow.

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Endothelin concentrations in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

Correlation with cerebral vasospasm, delayed ischemic neurological deficits, and volume of hematoma

Volker Seifert, Bernd-Michael Löffler, Michael Zimmermann, Sébastiên Roux, and Dietmar Stolke

✓ Plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of endothelin (ET)-1, ET-3, and big ET-1 in patients with aneurysmal rupture were measured serially for 2 weeks after the onset of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and compared with levels of ETs in patients without SAH and the plasma concentrations of ETs in normal volunteers. Big ET-1 was the predominant peptide present in the CSF of SAH patients. The CSF concentrations of big ET-1, ET-1, and ET-3 were significantly higher in older patients than in younger patients. In SAH patients with cerebral vasospasm (CVS) documented by transcranial Doppler sonography and clinical signs, postoperative concentrations of ETs in the CSF remained at or were increased above levels measured before surgery. In SAH patients without CVS, the concentrations of ETs in the CSF decreased with time, whereas the time course of CVS coincided with the increase in concentrations of big ET-1 and ET-1. The temporal dependence of concentrations of big ET-1 and ET-1 in SAH patients with and without CVS were significantly different. The volume of hematoma in the basal cisterns as detected by computerized tomography was predictive of the concentrations of ETs in the CSF. Plasma concentrations of ETs were not correlated wtih CVS. The possible role of ETs in the pathogenesis of CVS associated with SAH and the controversial data reported to date are discussed.