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Ben A. Strickland, Robert C. Rennert, Joshua Bakhsheshian, Sebina Bulic, Adrian J. Correa, Arun Amar, Joseph Carey, and Jonathan J. Russin

Surgical revascularization continues to play an important role in the management of complex intracranial aneurysms and ischemic cerebrovascular disease. Graft spasm is a common complication of bypass procedures and can result in ischemia or graft thrombosis. The authors here report on the first clinical use of botulinum toxin to prevent graft spasm following extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) bypass. This technique was used in 3 EC-IC bypass surgeries, 2 for symptomatic carotid artery occlusions and 1 for a ruptured basilar tip aneurysm. In all 3 cases, the harvested graft was treated ex vivo with botulinum toxin before the anastomosis was performed. Post-bypass vascular imaging demonstrated patency and the absence of spasm in all grafts. Histopathological analyses of treated vessels did not show any immediate endothelial or vessel wall damage. Postoperative angiograms were without graft spasm in all cases. Botulinum toxin may be a reasonable option for preventing graft spasm and maintaining patency in cerebral revascularization procedures.

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Ben A. Strickland, Giuseppe Barisano, Aidin Abedi, Mark S. Shiroishi, Steven Cen, Benjamin Emanuel, Sebina Bulic, May Kim-Tenser, Peggy Nguyen, Steven L. Giannotta, William Mack, and Jonathan Russin

OBJECTIVE

Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH)–induced vasospasm is linked to increased inflammatory cell trafficking across a permeable blood-brain barrier (BBB). Elevations in serum levels of matrix metalloprotease 9 (MMP9), a BBB structural protein, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of vasospasm onset. Minocycline is a potent inhibitor of MMP9. The authors sought to detect an effect of minocycline on BBB permeability following aSAH.

METHODS

Patients presenting within 24 hours of symptom onset with imaging confirmed aSAH (Fisher grade 3 or 4) were randomized to high-dose (10 mg/kg) minocycline or placebo. The primary outcome of interest was BBB permeability as quantitated by contrast signal intensity ratios in vascular regions of interest on postbleed day (PBD) 5 magnetic resonance permeability imaging. Secondary outcomes included serum MMP9 levels and radiographic and clinical evidence of vasospasm.

RESULTS

A total of 11 patients were randomized to minocycline (n = 6) or control (n = 5) groups. No adverse events or complications attributable to minocycline were reported. High-dose minocycline administration was associated with significantly lower permeability indices on imaging analysis (p < 0.01). There was no significant difference with respect to serum MMP9 levels between groups, although concentrations trended upward in both cohorts. Radiographic vasospasm was noted in 6 patients (minocycline = 3, control = 3), with only 1 patient developing symptoms of clinical vasospasm in the minocycline cohort. There was no difference between cohorts with respect to Lindegaard ratios, transcranial Doppler values, or onset of vasospasm.

CONCLUSIONS

Minocycline at high doses is well tolerated in the ruptured cerebral aneurysm population. Minocycline curtails breakdown of the BBB following aSAH as evidenced by lower permeability indices, though minocycline did not significantly alter serum MMP9 levels. Larger randomized clinical trials are needed to assess minocycline as a neuroprotectant against aSAH-induced vasospasm.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT04876638 (clinicaltrials.gov)