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John E. Wanebo, Hunter G. Louis, Adam S. Arthur, Jie Zhou, Neal F. Kassell, Kevin S. Lee, and Gregory A. Helm

Cerebral vasospasm is a major complication of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) after the rupture of an intracranial aneurysm. Although the cause of cerebral vasospasm has not been fully established, several lines of evidence suggest that the vasoconstrictor peptide endothelin (ET) may play a crucial role. In the present study the potential of TBC 11251 (TBC), a newly developed ETA receptor antagonist, to prevent and/or reverse cerebral vasospasm was examined in a well-established rabbit model of SAH.

Sixty-five New Zealand White rabbits were assigned to one of six groups. Experimental SAH was induced in rabbits comprising five of the groups by injecting autologous arterial blood into the cisterna magna. The treatment groups were as follows: 1) control (no SAH); 2) SAH only; 3) SAH + placebo at 24 and 36 hours (24/36); 4) SAH + TBC (24/36); 5) SAH + placebo twice daily (BID); and 6) SAH + TBC BID. All drug-treated animals received an intravenous dosage of 5 mg/kg TBC. After 48 hours, the animals were killed by intracardiac perfusion with fixative. The brainstems were removed and the basilar arteries (BAs) were prepared for histological examination. The cross-sectional area of each BA was measured using computer-assisted videomicroscopy by an investigator blind to the group from which it came. A one-way analysis of variance and paired group mean comparisons with the post-hoc Fisher least significant difference test were used for analysis of BA diameters and physiological parameters.

The model provided reliable vasospasm, with the mean BA cross-sectional area constricting from 0.388 mm2 in the control group to 0.106 mm2 (27.4% of control) in the SAH only group. Treatment with TBC (24/36) after SAH (reversal protocol) produced a mean BA area of 0.175 mm2 (44.2% of control) which, although larger than the placebo group value of 0.135 mm2 (39.9% of control), was not statistically significant. However, treatment with TBC BID (prevention protocol) produced a mean BA area of 0.303 mm2 (78.1% of control) compared with the placebo BID value of 0.134 mm2 (34.6% of control); this effect was statistically significant (p < 0.01). There were no side effects noted and no differences in the mean arterial pressures between drug and placebo groups.

These findings demonstrate that systemic administration of the ETA receptor antagonist TBC significantly attenuates cerebral vasospasm after SAH when given as a preventative therapy, and they provide additional support for the role of ET in the establishment of vasospasm.

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Bernhard Sutter, Satoshi Suzuki, Adam S. Arthur, Neal F. Kassell, and Kevin S. Lee

✓ Calcitonin gene—related peptide (CGRP) is a potent vasodilator and a primary signaling molecule in neurovascular communication. In the present study, the authors examined cerebrovascular responses to CGRP and its related second messenger systems during cerebral vasospasm induced by subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Tension measurements were performed in vitro on ring strips of basilar arteries obtained from rabbits subjected to artificial SAH and from control (non-SAH) animals. In vessels from SAH animals, which were preconstricted with serotonin, the vasorelaxant response to CGRP was attenuated. Because it has been suggested that vasodilation elicited by CGRP is mediated by cyclic 3′,5′-adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and/or cyclic 3′,5′-guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), the vascular effects of directly activating these second messenger systems were also examined. The relaxant effect of forskolin, which activates adenylate cyclase directly, was slightly enhanced after SAH. In contrast, the relaxant effect of nitroglycerin (GTN), which activates soluble guanylate cyclase directly, was unchanged after SAH.

The attenuation of CGRP-induced vasorelaxation could be the result of a modification in its ability to stimulate the production of second messengers. Experiments testing the capacity of CGRP to elevate cAMP levels showed no significant differences between vessels from non-SAH and SAH animals. Similarly, the resting levels of cAMP and the forskolin-induced elevations of cAMP did not differ between non-SAH and SAH animals. In contrast, cGMP levels were lower in resting and CGRP-treated vessels from SAH animals than in those from non-SAH animals. No significant differences in the levels of cGMP were observed between non-SAH and SAH vessels treated with GTN.

This study indicates that CGRP-induced vasodilation is attenuated during vasospasm in a rabbit model of SAH. The findings also demonstrate that vasodilatory responses mediated by cAMP and cGMP are intact, although the levels of cGMP in SAH vessels are reduced. Together, these observations suggest that an attenuation in the capacity of vessels to dilate in response to CGRP occurs during cerebral vasospasm, and this change in CGRP vasoactivity is a result of modifications prior to, or independent of, the elevation of cyclic nucleotide second messengers.