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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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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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Ramin Rak, Daniel L. Chao, Ryszard M. Pluta, James B. Mitchell, Edward H. Oldfield and Joe C. Watson

Object. The use of thrombolytic agents in the treatment of stroke has yielded surprisingly modest success, possibly because of reperfusion injury mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Therefore, scavenging ROS may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of stroke. Nitroxides are low-weight superoxide dismutase mimics, which allows them to act as cell-permeable antioxidants. In this study the nitroxide 4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6,-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl (Tempol) is investigated to determine its ability to reduce reperfusion injury.

Methods. Male Sprague—Dawley rats weighing between 280 g and 350 g underwent middle cerebral artery occlusion with an intraluminal suture for 60 minutes. Regional cerebral blood flow, blood pressure, cerebral temperature, and rectal temperature were monitored during the procedure. After reperfusion, the animals were randomized to groups receiving blinded intravenous administration of either Tempol (10 mg/kg; eight animals) or vehicle (eight animals) over the first 20 minutes of reperfusion (Study I). In a second study to determine dose dependency, animals were randomized to groups receiving Tempol (20 mg/kg; eight animals), low-dose Tempol (5 mg/kg; eight animals), or vehicle (eight animals; Study II). The rats were killed after 4 hours of reperfusion, and brain sections were stained with 2,3,5 triphenyltetrazolium chloride. Infarct volumes were measured using digital imaging.

Animals receiving Tempol had significantly reduced infarct volumes at doses of 20 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg compared with controls (49.01 ± 18.22% reduction [p = 0.003] and 47.47 ± 34.57 [p = 0.02], respectively). No significant differences in the physiological variables measured were observed between groups.

Conclusions. Tempol provides significant neuroprotection after reperfusion in a rat model of transient focal ischemia. These results support the importance of ROS in reperfusion injury and encourage further study of this molecule as a therapeutic agent following thrombolysis.

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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.

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Joseph C. Watson, Alexander M. Gorbach, Ryszard M. Pluta, Ramin Rak, John D. Heiss and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Application of sensitive infrared imaging is ideally suited to observe blood vessels and blood flow in exposed organs, including the brain. Temporary vascular occlusion is an important part of neurosurgery, but the capacity to monitor the effects of these occlusions in real time is limited. In surgical procedures that require vascular manipulation, such as those involving aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), or tumors, the ability to visualize blood flow in vessels and their distribution beds would be beneficial. The authors recount their experience in the use of a sensitive (0.02°C), high-resolution (up to 50 µm/pixel) infrared camera with a rapid shutter speed (up to 2 msec/frame) for localizing cortical function intraoperatively. They observed high-resolution images of cerebral arteries and veins.

The authors hypothesized that infrared imaging of cerebral arteries, performed using a sensitive, high-resolution camera during surgery, would permit changes in arterial flow to be be seen immediately, thus providing real-time assessment of brain perfusion in the involved vascular territory.

Methods. Cynomolgus monkeys underwent extensive craniectomies, exposing the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes. Temporary occlusions of the internal carotid artery and middle cerebral artery branches (30 events) were performed serially and were visualized with the aid of an infrared camera.

Arteries and veins of the monkey brain were clearly visualized due to cooling of the exposed brain, which contrasted with blood within the vessels that remained at core temperature. Blood flow changes in vessels were seen immediately (< 1 second) in real time during occlusion and reopening of the vessels, regardless of the duration of the occlusion. Areas of decreased cortical blood flow rapidly cooled (−0.3 to 1.3°C) and reheated in response to reperfusion. Rewarming occurred faster in arteries than in the cortex (for a 20-minute occlusion, the change in temperature per second was 2 × 10−2°C in the artery and 7 × 10−3°C in the brain). Collateral flow could be evaluated by intraoperative observations and data processing.

Conclusions. Use of high-resolution, digital infrared imaging permits real-time visualization of arterial flow. It has the potential to provide the surgeon with a means to assess collateral flow during temporary vessel occlusion and to visualize directly the flow in parent arteries or persistent filling of an aneurysm after clipping. During surgery for AVMs, the technique may provide a new way to assess arterial inflow, venous outflow, results of embolization, collateral flow, steal, and normal perfusion pressure breakthrough.

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Ryszard M. Pluta, Brian Iuliano, Hetty L. Devroom, Tung Nguyen and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Von Hippel—Lindau (VHL) disease is an autosomal-dominant neoplastic syndrome with manifestations in multiple organs, which is evoked by the deletion or mutation of a tumor suppressor gene on chromosome 3p25. Spinal hemangioblastomas (40% of VHL disease—associated lesions of the central nervous system) arise predominantly in the posterior aspect of the spinal cord and are often associated with an intraspinal cyst. Rarely, the tumor develops in the anterior aspect of the spinal cord. Ventral spinal hemangioblastomas are a surgical challenge because of difficult access and because vessels feeding the tumor originate from the anterior spinal artery.

The goal of this study was to clarify whether an anterior or posterior surgical approach is better for management of hemangioblastomas of the ventral spinal cord.

Methods. The authors performed a retrospective analysis of clinical outcomes and findings on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies in eight patients (two women and six men with a mean age of 34 ± 15 years) who underwent resection of ventral spinal hemangioblastomas (nine tumors: five cervical and four thoracic). Two surgical approaches were used to resect these tumors. A posterior approach was selected to treat five patients (laminectomy and posterior myelotomy in four patients and the posterolateral approach in one patient); an anterior approach (corpectomy and arthrodesis) was selected to treat the remaining three patients.

Immediately after surgery, the ability to ambulate remained unchanged in patients in whom an anterior approach had been performed, but deteriorated significantly in patients in whom a posterior approach had been used, because of motor weakness (four of five patients) and/or proprioceptive sensory loss (three of five patients). This difference in ambulation, despite significant improvements over time among patients in the posterior access group, remained significant 6 months after surgery. In all cases, MR images revealed complete resection of the tumor and in five patients significant or complete resolution of the intramedullary cyst was demonstrated (present in six of eight patients).

Conclusions. The outcomes of these eight patients with hemangioblastomas of the ventral spinal cord indicate that both immediate and long-term results are better when an anterior approach is selected for resection.

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Ryszard M. Pluta, Scott D. Wait, John A. Butman, Kathleen A. Leppig, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Edward H. Oldfield and Russell R. Lonser

Hemangioblastomas are histologically benign neoplasms that occur sporadically or as part of von Hippel–Lindau disease. Hemangioblastomas may occur anywhere along the neuraxis, but sacral hemangioblastomas are extremely rare. To identify features that will help guide the operative and clinical management of these lesions, the authors describe the management of a large von Hippel–Lindau disease–associated sacral hemangioblastoma and review the literature.

The authors present the case of a 38-year-old woman with von Hippel–Lindau disease and a 10-year history of progressive back pain, as well as left lower-extremity pain and numbness. Neurological examination revealed decreased sensation in the left S-1 and S-2 dermatomes. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a large enhancing lesion in the sacral region, with associated erosion of the sacrum. The patient underwent arteriography and embolization of the tumor and then resection. The histopathological diagnosis was consistent with hemangioblastoma and showed intrafascicular tumor infiltration of the S-2 nerve root. At 1-year follow-up examination, pain had resolved and numbness improved.

Sacral nerve root hemangioblastomas may be safely removed in most patients, resulting in stabilization or improvement in symptomatology. Generally, hemangioblastomas of the sacral nerve roots should be removed when they cause symptoms. Because they originate from the nerve root, the nerve root from which the hemangioblastoma originates must be sacrificed to achieve complete resection.

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Astrid Weyerbrock, Stuart Walbridge, Ryszard M. Pluta, Joseph E. Saavedra, Larry K. Keefer and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. The response of brain tumors to systemic chemotherapy is limited by the blood—tumor barrier (BTB). Nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in the regulation of vascular permeability and blood flow. The authors evaluated the effects of exogenous NO, which was released from a short-acting NO donor (Proli/NO), and those of NO metabolites on the capillary permeability of tumors and normal brain tissue by using quantitative autoradiography in a C6 glioma model in rats.

Methods. The Proli/NO was infused at a wide dose range (10−2 to 10−12 M) either intravenously or into the internal carotid artery (ICA) and demonstrated substantial tumor-selective increases in blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability in response to various-sized tracers ([14C]aminoisobutyric acid, [14C]sucrose, [14C]dextran). Internal carotid artery or intravenous administration of sodium nitrite had a comparable effect on BTB permeability. The NO effect on microvascular permeability could be obtained without causing hemodynamic side effects. The effect of NO on the efficacy of carboplatin chemotherapy was investigated in intracerebral C6 gliomas. Simultaneous intravenous infusions of Proli/NO (10−6 M) and carboplatin (20 mg/kg) led to long-term survival in 40% of rats harboring intracerebral C6 gliomas compared with control animals receiving ICA or intravenous infusions of carboplatin, Proli/NO, or vehicle alone. No residual tumor was demonstrated on histological or magnetic resonance imaging studies performed in rats treated with Proli/NO and carboplatin, and no toxicity was observed.

Conclusions. This new approach demonstrated the in vivo efficacy and safety of NO and nitrite in enhancing the delivery of systemically delivered radiolabeled tracers and carboplatin into rat gliomas. The NO-induced tumor-selective BBB disruption and intravenous carboplatin chemotherapy may be more efficacious than current chemotherapy strategies against brain tumors.

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Brian A. Iuliano, Ryszard M. Pluta, Carla Jung and Edward H. Oldfield


Although abnormalities in the control of endothelial vasomotility have been reported in both experimental and clinical studies, the mechanism of the endothelial dysfunction that occurs following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) remains unclear. Because of the absence of previous in vivo studies of endothelial function in cerebral vessels in response to SAH or cerebral vasospasm, the authors investigated endothelium—dependent responses in an established primate model of vasospasm after SAH. Endothelial function was assessed by examining vascular responses to intracarotid injections of various drugs known to act via the endothelium. Drugs that have a rapid total body clearance were selected so that their pharmacological effects would be limited to the cerebral circulation after an intracarotid infusion.


Seventeen adult male cynomolgus monkeys were used. Cerebrovascular endothelium—dependent responses were examined in control animals and in animals with SAH 7, 14, and 21 days after placement of a subarachnoid clot around the right middle cerebral artery. Cortical cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrovascular resistance (CVR) were recorded continuously during 5-minute intracarotid infusions of 5% dextrose vehicle, acetylcholine, histamine, bradykinin, or Calcimycin.

In control animals the intracarotid infusion of acetylcholine produced a significant (7.8 ± 9.5%) increase in CBF and a 9.3 ± 8.7% reduction in CVR in comparison with a control infusion of dextrose vehicle. The responses to acetylcholine disappeared in animals 7 days post-SAH, specifically in the subset of animals in which arteriography confirmed the presence of vasospasm. Infusion of Calcimycin produced no significant changes in CBF or CVR in control animals, but resulted in a significant reduction in CBF and increase in CVR in animals 7 days after SAH and in animals with vasospasm. An infusion of histamine or bradykinin had no significant effect on CBF or CVR.


An intracarotid infusion of acetylcholine, but not one of histamine, bradykinin, or Calcimycin, produced a measurable physiological response in the normal primate cerebrovasculature. Cerebral vasospasm that occurred after SAH produced a pathophysiological effect similar to the endothelial denudation shown in the in vitro experiments of Furchgott and Zawadzki, in which acetylcholine constricted the vessels via activation of receptors on smooth-muscle cells. Changes in vascular responses to acetylcholine and Calcimycin in animals with vasospasm, compared with control animals, provide evidence that endothelial dysfunction plays a key role in the development and/or sustenance of vasospasm after SAH.