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Ryszard M. Pluta, John K. B. Afshar, B. Gregory Thompson, Robert J. Boock, Judith Harvey-White and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. The reduction in the level of nitric oxide (NO) is a purported mechanism of delayed vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Evidence in support of a causative role for NO includes the disappearance of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) from the adventitia of vessels in spasm, the destruction of NO by hemoglobin released from the clot into the subarachnoid space, and reversal of vasospasm by intracarotid NO. The authors sought to establish whether administration of l-arginine, the substrate of the NO-producing enzyme NOS, would reverse and/or prevent vasospasm in a primate model of SAH.

Methods. The study was composed of two sets of experiments: one in which l-arginine was infused over a brief period into the carotid artery of monkeys with vasospasm, and the other in which l-arginine was intravenously infused into monkeys over a longer period of time starting at onset of SAH. In the short-term infusion experiment, the effect of a 3-minute intracarotid infusion of l-arginine (intracarotid concentration 10−6 M) on the degree of vasospasm of the right middle cerebral artery (MCA) and on regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was examined in five cynomolgus monkeys. In the long-term infusion experiment, the effect of a 14-day intravenous infusion of saline (control group, five animals) or l-arginine (10−3 M; six animals) on the occurrence and degree of cerebral vasospasm was examined in monkeys. The degree of vasospasm in all experiments was assessed by cerebral arteriography, which was performed preoperatively and on postoperative Days 7 (short and long-term infusion experiments) and 14 (long-term infusion experiment). In the long-term infusion experiment, plasma levels of l-arginine were measured at these times in the monkeys to confirm l-arginine availability.

Vasospasm was not affected by the intracarotid infusion of l-arginine (shown by the reduction in the right MCA area on an anteroposterior arteriogram compared with preoperative values). However, intracarotid l-arginine infusion increased rCBF by 21% (p < 0.015; PCO2 38–42 mm Hg) in all vasospastic monkeys compared with rCBF measured during the saline infusions. In the long-term infusion experiment, vasospasm of the right MCA occurred with similar intensity with or without continuous intravenous administration of l-arginine on Day 7 and had resolved by Day 14. The mean plasma l-arginine level increased during infusion from 12.7 ± 4 µg/ml on Day 0 to 21.9 ± 13.1 µg/ml on Day 7 and was 18.5 ± 3.1 µg/ml on Day 14 (p < 0.05).

Conclusions. Brief intracarotid and continuous intravenous infusion of l-arginine did not influence the incidence or degree of cerebral vasospasm. After SAH, intracarotid infusion of l-arginine markedly increased rCBF in a primate model of SAH. These findings discourage the use of l-arginine as a treatment for vasospasm after SAH.

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Ryszard M. Pluta, B. Gregory Thompson, Ted M. Dawson, Solomon H. Snyder, Robert J. Boock and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ To determine the distribution of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) in the primate cerebral artery nervi vasorum and to examine the potential role of NOS in cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in primates, the distribution of NOS immunoreactivity (NOS-IR) in the major cerebral arteries was examined immunohistochemically in cynomolgus monkeys by the use of whole, mounted preparations of the circle of Willis. In four normal monkeys, NOS-IR was localized to the endothelial and adventitial layers of the large cerebral arteries. On the abluminal side, NOS-IR staining was densely concentrated in perivascular nerve fibers (nervi vasorum) of the anterior circulation. Staining was less prominent in the posterior circulation. In six monkeys with vasospasm on Day 7 after placement of preclotted arterial blood to form an SAH around the right middle cerebral artery (MCA) (42% ± 8.3% decrease of MCA area, mean ± standard deviation), NOS-IR was virtually absent in nerve fibers around the spastic right MCA but was normal on the contralateral side. In five monkeys in which vasospasm resolved by Day 14 after SAH (36% ± 14% decrease of right MCA area on Day 7, and 5% ± 14% decrease on Day 14), NOS-IR was also absent in the right MCA adventitial nerve fibers and remained normal in the left MCA. Adventitial NOS-IR was also normal in cerebral vessels of a sham-operated, nonspastic monkey.

These findings provide further evidence that nitric oxide (NO) functions as a neuronal transmitter to mediate vasodilation in primates and indicate a role for adventitial NO in the pathogenesis of cerebral vasospasm after SAH in humans.

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B. Gregory Thompson, Ryszard M. Pluta, Mary E. Girton and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ The authors sought to develop a model for assessing in vivo regulation of cerebral vasoregulation by nitric oxide (NO), originally described as endothelial-derived relaxing factor, and to use this model to establish the role of NO in the regulation of cerebral blood flow (CBF) in primates. By using regional intraarterial perfusion, the function of NO in cerebral vasoregulation was examined without producing confounding systemic physiological effects. Issues examined were: whether resting vasomotor tone requires NO; whether NO mediates vasodilation during chemoregulation and autoregulation of CBF; and whether there is a relationship between the degree of hypercapnia and hypotension and NO production. Twelve anesthetized (0.5% isoflurane) cynomolgus monkeys were monitored continuously for cortical CBF, PaCO2, and mean arterial pressure (MAP), which were systematically altered to provide control and experimental curves of chemoregulation (CBF vs. PaCO2) and autoregulation (CBF vs. MAP) during continuous intracarotid infusion of 1) saline and 2) an NO synthase inhibitor (NOSI), either l-n-monomethyl arginine or nitro l-arginine.

During basal conditions (PaCO2 of 38–42 mm Hg) NOSI infusion of internal carotid artery (ICA) reduced cortical CBF from 62 (saline) to 53 ml/100 g/per minute (p < 0.01), although there was no effect on MAP. Increased CBF in response to hypercapnia was completely blocked by ICA NOSI. The difference in regional (r)CBF between ICA saline and NOSI infusion increased linearly with PaCO2 when PaCO2 was greater than 40 mm Hg, indicating a graded relationship of NO production, increasing PaCO2, and increasing CBF. Diminution of CBF with NOSI infusion was reversed by simultaneous ICA infusion of l-arginine, indicating a direct role of NO synthesis in the chemoregulation of CBF.

Hypotension and hypertension were induced with trimethaphan camsylate (Arfonad) and phenylephrine at constant PaCO2 (40 ± 1 mm Hg). Autoregulation in response to changes in MAP from 50 to 140 mm Hg was unaffected by ICA infusion of NOSI.

In primates, cerebral vascular tone is modulated in vivo by NO; continuous release of NO is necessary to maintain homeostatic cerebral vasodilation; vasodilation during chemoregulation of CBF is mediated directly by NO production; autoregulatory vasodilation with hypotension is not mediated by NO; and increasing PaCO2 induces increased NO production.

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John K. B. Afshar, Ryszard M. Pluta, Robert J. Boock, B. Gregory Thompson and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ The continuous release of nitric oxide (NO) is required to maintain basal cerebrovascular tone. Oxyhemoglobin, a putative spasmogen, rapidly binds NO, implicating loss of NO in the pathogenesis of cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). If vasospasm is mediated by depletion of NO in the vessel wall, it should be reversible by replacement with NO. To investigate this hypothesis, the authors placed blood clots around the right middle cerebral artery (RMCA) of four cynomolgus monkeys; four unoperated animals served as controls. Arteriography was performed before and 7 days after surgery to assess the presence and degree of vasospasm, which was quantified in the anteroposterior (AP) projection by computerized image analysis. On Day 7, cortical cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the distribution of the right MCA was measured during four to six runs in the right internal carotid artery (ICA) of brief infusions of saline followed by NO solution. Arteriography was performed immediately after completing the final NO infusion in three of the four animals with vasospasm. Right MCA blood flow velocities were obtained using transcranial Doppler before, during, and after NO infusion in two vasospastic animals.

After ICA NO infusion, arteriographic vasospasm resolved (mean percent of preoperative AP area, 55.9%); that is, the AP areas of the proximal portion of the right MCA returned to their preoperative values (mean 91.4%; range 88%–96%). Compared to ICA saline, during ICA NO infusion CBF increased 7% in control animals and 19% in vasospastic animals (p < 0.002) without significant changes in other physiological parameters. During NO infusion, peak systolic right MCA CBF velocity decreased (130 to 109 cm/sec and 116 to 76 cm/sec) in two vasospastic animals. The effects of ICA NO on CBF and CBF velocity disappeared shortly after terminating NO infusion.

Intracarotid infusion of NO in a primate model of vasospasm 1) increases CBF, 2) decreases cerebral vascular resistance, 3) reverses arteriographic vasospasm, and 4) decreases CBF velocity in the vasospastic artery without producing systemic hypotension. These findings indicate the potential for the development of targeted therapy to reverse cerebral vasospasm after SAH.

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B. Gregory Thompson, John L. Doppman and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Cranial dural arteriovenous fistulae (AVF's) of the tentorial incisura or the dura of the middle fossa have a much higher incidence of draining via leptomeningeal veins than do AVF's of the transverse-sigmoid sinuses or the cavernous sinus. Such a drainage pattern is associated with an increased incidence of intracranial hemorrhage and progressive focal neurological deficits. Patients with cranial dural AVF's often undergo surgical excision and/or endovascular embolization for elimination of the AVF. Since these lesions are frequently large and involve the skull base or adjacent dural sinuses, extensive surgery is often required. In contrast, spinal dural AVF's with only intradural venous drainage to the medullary venous system are treated successfully by simply interrupting the vein that drains the dural AVF as it enters the subarachnoid space. The authors identified a subgroup of patients with cranial dural AVF's in whom the AVF was drained only by leptomeningeal veins, and sought to establish whether simple interruption of the vein draining the blood from the AVF into the subarachnoid space is effective and lasting treatment in this subgroup of patients, as it is in patients with spinal dural AVF's.

Four adult patients with symptomatic cranial dural AVF's (two petrotentorial, one middle fossa floor, and one posterior fossa base) were identified on arteriography as having fistulae that were supplied by the internal and/or external carotid arteries and drained only via leptomeningeal veins (two entered the petrosal vein, one a cerebellar hemispheric vein, and one a mesencephalic vein). All patients underwent interruption of the vein draining the dural AVF as it penetrated the dura to enter the subarachnoid space, and experienced neurological improvement after surgery. Repeat arteriography at 1 to 2 weeks (three patients), 3 months (3 patients), 12 to 15 months (three patients), and 4 years (two patients) revealed no residual AVF and no evidence of abnormal blood flow.

Many cranial dural AVF's with leptomeningeal venous drainage (the type with the most aggressive behavior) are drained only by leptomeningeal veins. This subgroup of patients can be identified by selective arteriography and requires only interruption of the draining vein as it enters the subarachnoid space for successful, lasting elimination.