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Zakier Hussain, Gopalakrishnan Balamurali and Andrew T. King

✓ The authors report an interesting case of the rupture of a brainstem cyst following blunt head trauma. They discuss the case, review reports of similar events, and suggest a possible mechanism by which the cyst could have resolved without surgery.

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Hiren C. Patel, Andrew T. King and Fiona Lecky

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James Galea, Kayode Ogungbenro, Sharon Hulme, Hiren Patel, Sylvia Scarth, Margaret Hoadley, Karen Illingworth, Catherine J. McMahon, Nikolaos Tzerakis, Andrew T. King, Andy Vail, Stephen J. Hopkins, Nancy Rothwell and Pippa Tyrrell

OBJECTIVE

Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is a devastating cerebrovascular event with long-term morbidity and mortality. Patients who survive the initial bleeding are likely to suffer further early brain injury arising from a plethora of pathological processes. These may result in a worsening of outcome or death in approximately 25% of patients and may contribute to longer-term cognitive dysfunction in survivors. Inflammation, mediated by the cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1), is an important contributor to cerebral ischemia after diverse forms of brain injury, including aSAH. Its effects are attenuated by its naturally occurring antagonist, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra [anakinra]). The authors hypothesized that administration of additional subcutaneous IL-1Ra would reduce inflammation and associated plasma markers associated with poor outcome following aSAH.

METHODS

This was a randomized, open-label, single-blinded study of 100 mg subcutaneous IL-1Ra, administered twice daily in patients with aSAH, starting within 3 days of ictus and continuing until 21 days postictus or discharge from the neurosurgical center, whichever was earlier. Blood samples were taken at admission (baseline) and at Days 3–8, 14, and 21 postictus for measurement of inflammatory markers. The primary outcome was difference in plasma IL-6 measured as area under the curve between Days 3 and 8, corrected for baseline value. Secondary outcome measures included similar area under the curve analyses for other inflammatory markers, plasma pharmacokinetics for IL-1Ra, and clinical outcome at 6 months.

RESULTS

Interleukin-1Ra significantly reduced levels of IL-6 and C-reactive protein (p < 0.001). Fibrinogen levels were also reduced in the active arm of the study (p < 0.002). Subcutaneous IL-1Ra was safe, well tolerated, and had a predictable plasma pharmacokinetic profile. Although the study was not powered to investigate clinical effect, scores of the Glasgow Outcome Scale–extended at 6 months were better in the active group; however, this outcome did not reach statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS

Subcutaneous IL-1Ra is safe and well tolerated in aSAH. It is effective in reducing peripheral inflammation. These data support a Phase III study investigating the effect of IL-1Ra on outcome following aSAH.

Clinical trial registration no.: EudraCT: 2011-001855-35 (www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu)

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Daniel Lewis, Carmine A. Donofrio, Claire O’Leary, Ka-loh Li, Xiaoping Zhu, Ricky Williams, Ibrahim Djoukhadar, Erjon Agushi, Cathal J. Hannan, Emma Stapleton, Simon K. Lloyd, Simon R. Freeman, Andrea Wadeson, Scott A. Rutherford, Charlotte Hammerbeck-Ward, D. Gareth Evans, Alan Jackson, Omar N. Pathmanaban, Federico Roncaroli, Andrew T. King and David J. Coope

OBJECTIVE

Inflammation and angiogenesis may play a role in the growth of sporadic and neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)–related vestibular schwannoma (VS). The similarities in microvascular and inflammatory microenvironment have not been investigated. The authors sought to compare the tumor microenvironment (TME) in sporadic and NF2-related VSs using a combined imaging and tissue analysis approach.

METHODS

Diffusion MRI and high-temporal-resolution dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI data sets were prospectively acquired in 20 NF2-related and 24 size-matched sporadic VSs. Diffusion metrics (mean diffusivity, fractional anisotropy) and DCE-MRI–derived microvascular biomarkers (transfer constant [Ktrans], fractional plasma volume, tissue extravascular-extracellular space [ve], longitudinal relaxation rate, tumoral blood flow) were compared across both VS groups, and regression analysis was used to evaluate the effect of tumor size, pretreatment tumor growth rate, and tumor NF2 status (sporadic vs NF2-related) on each imaging parameter. Tissues from 17 imaged sporadic VSs and a separate cohort of 12 NF2-related VSs were examined with immunohistochemistry markers for vessels (CD31), vessel permeability (fibrinogen), and macrophage density (Iba1). The expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and VEGF receptor 1 was evaluated using immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and double immunofluorescence.

RESULTS

Imaging data demonstrated that DCE-MRI–derived microvascular characteristics were similar in sporadic and NF2-related VSs. Ktrans (p < 0.001), ve (p ≤ 0.004), and tumoral free water content (p ≤ 0.003) increased with increasing tumor size and pretreatment tumor growth rate. Regression analysis demonstrated that with the exception of mean diffusivity (p < 0.001), NF2 status had no statistically significant effect on any of the imaging parameters or the observed relationship between the imaging parameters and tumor size (p > 0.05). Tissue analysis confirmed the imaging metrics among resected sporadic VSs and demonstrated that across all VSs studied, there was a close association between vascularity and Iba1+ macrophage density (r = 0.55, p = 0.002). VEGF was expressed by Iba1+ macrophages.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present the first in vivo comparative study of microvascular and inflammatory characteristics in sporadic and NF2-related VSs. The imaging and tissue analysis results indicate that inflammation is a key contributor to TME and should be viewed as a therapeutic target in both VS groups.