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Ryszard M. Pluta, Edward H. Oldfield and Robert J. Boock

✓ Decreased endothelium-derived relaxing factor, nitric oxide (NO), in the arterial wall has been hypothesized to be a potential cause of cerebral vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The authors sought to determine whether intracarotid infusions of newly developed NO-donating compounds (NONOates) could reverse vasospasm or prevent the occurrence of cerebral vasospasm in a primate model of SAH. Twenty-one cynomolgus monkeys were studied in two experimental settings. In an acute infusion experiment, saline or NONOate was infused intracarotidly in four normal monkeys and in four monkeys after onset of SAH. During the infusions regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured in eight animals and CBF velocity in two. In a chronic infusion experiment, saline (four animals) or NONOate (diethylamine-NO [three animals] or proli-NO [six animals]) was infused intracarotidly in monkeys for 7 days after SAH. In acute infusion experiments, 3-minute intracarotid diethylamine-NO infusions reversed arteriographically confirmed vasospasm of the right middle cerebral artery (MCA) (as viewed on anteroposterior projection, the decrease in area was 8.4 ± 4.3% in the treatment group compared with 35 ± 12% in the control group; p < 0.004), increased rCBF by 31 ± 1.9% (p < 0.002), and decreased the mean systolic CBF velocity in the right MCA. In a long-term infusion experiment, the area of the right MCA in control animals decreased by 63 ± 5%. In animals undergoing a 7-day continuous glucantime-NO intracarotid infusion, the area of the right MCA decreased by 15 ± 6.2%, and in animals undergoing a 7-day proli-NO infusion, the area of the right MCA decreased by 11 ± 2.9% (p < 0.05). The mean arterial blood pressure decreased in the glucantime-NO group from 75 ± 12 mm Hg (during saline infusion) to 57 ± 10 mm Hg (during glucantime-NO infusion; p < 0.05), but it was unchanged in animals undergoing proli-NO infusion (76 ± 12 mm Hg vs. 78 ± 12 mm Hg). Results of these experiments show that cerebral vasospasm is both reversed and completely prevented by NO replacement. However, only the use of regional infusion of the NONOate with an extremely short half-life avoided a concomitant decrease in arterial blood pressure, which could produce cerebral ischemia in patients with impaired autoregulation of CBF after the rupture of an intracranial aneurysm.

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Laura L. Horky, Ryszard M. Pluta, Robert J. Boock and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Oxyhemoglobin (HbO2) causes vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The most likely spasmogenic component of HbO2 is iron. Various iron chelators, such as deferoxamine, have prevented vasospasm in vivo with limited success. However, only chelators of iron in the ferric state have been studied in animal models of vasospasm after SAH. Because free radical formation requires the ferrous (Fe++) moiety and Fe++ is a potent binder of the vasodilator nitric oxide, the authors hypothesized that iron in the ferrous state causes vasospasm and that chelators of Fe++, such as 2,2′-dipyridyl, may prevent vasospasm. This study was undertaken to investigate the influence of 2,2′-dipyridyl on vasospasm after induction of SAH in a primate model.

Methods. Twelve cynomolgus monkeys were randomly divided into two groups and then both groups underwent placement of an arterial autologous blood clot in the subarachnoid space around the right middle cerebral artery (MCA). The five animals in the control group received intravenously administered saline and the seven treated animals received intravenously administered chelator (2,2′-dipyridyl) for 14 days. Sequential arteriography for assessment of MCA diameter was performed before and on the 7th day after SAH.

Conclusions. Prevention of cerebral vasospasm by means of treatment with continuous intravenous administration of 2,2′-dipyridyl is reported in a primate model of SAH. This result provides insight into the possible mechanism of delayed vasospasm after aneurysmal SAH and provides a potential preventive therapy for it.

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

Hemoglobin released from hemolysed erythrocytes has been postulated to be responsible for delayed cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). However, the evidence is indirect and the mechanisms of action are unclear. Cerebrovascular tone is regulated by a dynamic balance of relaxing and contracting factors. Loss of the endothelium-derived relaxing factor—nitric oxide in the presence of oxyhemoglobin and overproduction of endothelin-1 stimulated by oxyhemoglobin have been postulated as causes of delayed cerebral vasospasm after SAH.

Object. The authors aimed to investigate this hypothesis using in vivo microdialysis to examine time-dependent changes in the perivascular concentrations of oxyhemoglobin, deoxyhemoglobin, and methemoglobin in a primate model of SAH.

Methods. Nine cynomolgus monkeys underwent right-sided frontotemporal craniectomy and placement of a semipermeable microdialysis catheter adjacent to the right middle cerebral artery (MCA). Saline (control group, three animals) or an arterial blood clot (SAH group, six animals) was then placed around the MCA and the catheter. Arteriographically confirmed vasospasm had developed in all animals with SAH but in none of the control animals on Day 7. The dialysate was collected daily for 12 days. Levels of oxyhemoglobin, deoxyhemoglobin, and methemoglobin were measured by means of spectrophotometry.

Perivascular concentrations of oxyhemoglobin, deoxyhemoglobin, and methemoglobin peaked on Day 2 in the control monkeys and could not be detected on Days 5 to 12. Perivascular concentrations of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin peaked on Day 7 in the SAH group, at which time the concentrations in the dialysate were 100-fold higher than in any sample obtained from the control animals. Methemoglobin levels increased only slightly, peaking between Days 7 and 12, at which time the concentration in the dialysate was 10-fold higher than in samples from the control animals.

Conclusions. This study provides in vivo evidence that the concentrations of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin increase in the cerebral subarachnoid perivascular space during the development of delayed cerebral vasospasm. The results support the hypothesis that oxyhemoglobin is involved in the pathogenesis of delayed cerebral vasospasm after SAH and implicate deoxyhemoglobin as a possible vasospastic agent.

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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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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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Ryszard M. Pluta, Robert J. Boock, John K. Afshar, Kathleen Clouse, Mima Bacic, Hannelore Ehrenreich and Edward H. Oldfield

Despite years of research, delayed cerebral vasospasm remains a serious complication of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Recently, it has been proposed that endothelin-1 (ET-1) mediates vasospasm. The authors examined this hypothesis in a series of experiments. In a primate model of SAH, serial ET-1 levels were measured in samples from the perivascular space by using a microdialysis technique and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma during the development and resolution of delayed vasospasm. To determine whether elevated ET-1 production was a direct cause of vasospasm or acted secondary to ischemia, the authors also measured ET-1 levels in plasma and CSF after transient cerebral ischemia. To elucidate the source of ET-1, they measured its production in cultures of endothelial cells and astrocytes exposed to oxyhemoglobin (10 μM), methemoglobin (10 μM), or hypoxia (11% oxygen).

There was no correlation between the perivascular levels of ET-1 and the development of vasospasm or its resolution. Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma levels of ET-1 were not affected by vasospasm (CSF ET-1 levels were 9.3 ± 2.2 pg/ml and ET-1 plasma levels were 1.2 ± 0.6 pg/ml) before SAH and remained unchanged when vasospasm developed (7.1 ± 1.7 pg/ml in CSF and 2.7 ± 1.5 pg/ml in plasma). Transient cerebral ischemia evoked an increase of ET-1 levels in CSF (1 ± 0.4 pg/ml at the occlusion vs. 3.1 ± 0.6 pg/ml 4 hours after reperfusion; p < 0.05), which returned to normal (0.7 ± 0.3 pg/ml) after 24 hours. Endothelial cells and astrocytes in culture showed inhibition of ET-1 production 6 hours after exposure to hemoglobins. Hypoxia inhibited ET-1 release by endothelial cells at 24 hours (6.4 ± 0.8 pg/ml vs. 0.1 ± 0.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic endothelial cells; p < 0.05) and at 48 hours (6.4 ± 0.6 pg/ml vs. 0 ± 0.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic endothelial cells; p < 0.05), but in astrocytes hypoxia induced an increase of ET-1 at 6 hours (1.5 ± 0.6 vs. 6.4 ± 1.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic astrocytes; p < 0.05).

Endothelin-1 is released from astrocytes, but not endothelial cells, during hypoxia and is released from the brain after transient ischemia. There is no relationship between ET-1 and vasospasm in vivo or between ET-1 and oxyhemoglobin, a putative agent of vasospasm, in vitro. The increase in ET-1 levels in CSF after SAH from a ruptured intracranial aneurysm appears to be the result of cerebral ischemia rather than reflecting the cause of cerebral vasospasm.

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Ryszard M. Pluta, Robert J. Boock, John K. Afshar, Kathleen Clouse, Mima Bacic, Hannelore Ehrenreich and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Despite years of research, delayed cerebral vasospasm remains a serious complication of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Recently, it has been proposed that endothelin-1 (ET-1) mediates vasospasm. The authors examined this hypothesis in a series of experiments. In a primate model of SAH, serial ET-1 levels were measured in samples from the perivascular space by using a microdialysis technique and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma during the development and resolution of delayed vasospasm. To determine whether elevated ET-1 production was a direct cause of vasospasm or acted secondary to ischemia, the authors also measured ET-1 levels in plasma and CSF after transient cerebral ischemia. To elucidate the source of ET-1, they measured its production in cultures of endothelial cells and astrocytes exposed to oxyhemoglobin (10 µM), methemoglobin (10 µM), or hypoxia (11% oxygen).

There was no correlation between the perivascular levels of ET-1 and the development of vasospasm or its resolution. Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma levels of ET-1 were not affected by vasospasm (CSF ET-1 levels were 9.3 ± 2.2 pg/ml and ET-1 plasma levels were 1.2 ± 0.6 pg/ml) before SAH and remained unchanged when vasospasm developed (7.1 ± 1.7 pg/ml in CSF and 2.7 ± 1.5 pg/ml in plasma). Transient cerebral ischemia evoked an increase of ET-1 levels in CSF (1 ± 0.4 pg/ml at the occlusion vs. 3.1 ± 0.6 pg/ml 4 hours after reperfusion; p < 0.05), which returned to normal (0.7 ± 0.3 pg/ml) after 24 hours. Endothelial cells and astrocytes in culture showed inhibition of ET-1 production 6 hours after exposure to hemoglobins. Hypoxia inhibited ET-1 release by endothelial cells at 24 hours (6.4 ± 0.8 pg/ml vs. 0.1 ± 0.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic endothelial cells; p < 0.05) and at 48 hours (6.4 ± 0.6 pg/ml vs. 0 ± 0.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic endothelial cells; p < 0.05), but in astrocytes hypoxia induced an increase of ET-1 at 6 hours (1.5 ± 0.6 vs. 6.4 ± 1.1 pg/ml, control vs. hypoxic astrocytes; p < 0.05).

Endothelin-1 is released from astrocytes, but not endothelial cells, during hypoxia and is released from the brain after transient ischemia. There is no relationship between ET-1 and vasospasm in vivo or between ET-1 and oxyhemoglobin, a putative agent of vasospasm, in vitro. The increase in ET-1 levels in CSF after SAH from a ruptured intracranial aneurysm appears to be the result of cerebral ischemia rather than reflecting the cause of cerebral vasospasm.

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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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R. Bryan Mason, Ryszard M. Pluta, Stuart Walbridge, David A. Wink, Edward H. Oldfield and Robert J. Boock

Object. Thrombolytic treatments for ischemic stroke can restore circulation, but reperfusion injury, mediated by oxygen free radicals, can limit their utility. The authors hypothesized that, during reperfusion, nitric oxide (NO) provides cytoprotection against oxygen free radical species.

Methods. Levels of NO and oxygen free radicals were determined in both reoxygenation in vitro and reperfusion in vivo models using an NO electrochemical probe and high-performance liquid chromatography with the 2,3- and 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid trapping method, before and after addition of the NO donor diethanolamine nitric oxide (DEA/NO).

Reoxygenation after anoxia produced a twofold increase in NO release by human fetal astrocytes and cerebral endothelial cells (p < 0.005). In both cell lines, there was also a two- to threefold increase in oxygen free radical production (p < 0.005). In human fetal astrocytes and cerebral endothelial cells given a single dose of DEA/NO, free radical production dropped fivefold compared with peak ischemic levels (p < 0.001). In a study in which a rat global cerebral ischemia model was used, NO production in a vehicle-treated group increased 48 ± 16% above baseline levels after reperfusion. After intravenous DEA/NO infusion, NO reached 1.6 times the concentration of the postischemic peak in vehicle-treated animals. In vehicle-treated animals during reperfusion, free radical production increased 4.5-fold over basal levels (p < 0.01). After intravenous DEA/NO infusion, free radical production dropped nearly 10-fold compared with peak levels in vehicle-treated animals (p < 0.006). The infarct volume in the vehicle-treated animals was 111 ± 16.9 mm3; after DEA/NO infusion it was 64.8 ± 23.4 mm3 (p < 0.01).

Conclusions. The beneficial effect of early restoration of cerebral circulation after cerebral ischemia is limited by reperfusion injury. These results indicate that NO release and oxygen free radical production increase during reperfusion, and suggest a possible early treatment of reperfusion injury using NO donors.