Can the Time Window for Administration of Thrombolytics in Stroke be Increased?

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  • CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14): 995-1011CURRENT OPINION 1172-7047/03/0014-0995/$30.00/0 Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved.

    Can the Time Window forAdministration of Thrombolytics inStroke be Increased?Geoffrey A. Donnan,1 David W. Howells,1,2 Romesh Markus,1 Danilo Toni3 andStephen M. Davis4

    1 National Stroke Research Institute, Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre, West Heidelberg,Victoria, Australia

    2 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre,Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

    3 Stroke Unit, Department of Neurological Sciences, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy4 Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Level 1 evidence now shows that thrombolysis in cases of acute ischaemicAbstractstroke is effective if administered within 3 hours of stroke onset. This benefit hasbeen shown to be time dependent and potentially extends beyond 3 hours, withevidence that potentially viable penumbral tissue may be present in a significantproportion of cases well beyond 36 hours and, in isolated cases, perhaps up to 48hours. This exposes a stroke recovery gap, the difference observed between theclinical response to thrombolytic therapy in a given population of patientspresenting with ischaemic stroke and the potential clinical recovery if all of thepenumbra were salvaged under ideal circumstances.

    The means of bridging this stroke recovery gap using thrombolysis mustinvolve extending the therapeutic time window (i.e. the time between stroke onsetand administration of thrombolytics). Approaches to do this include the use of: (i)improved patient selection with modern neuroimaging techniques, particularlymagnetic resonance imaging using perfusion-weighted image/diffusion-weightedimage mismatch; (ii) newer thrombolytic agents; (iii) lower doses of these agents;(iv) varied methods of administration of thrombolytic therapy including combinedintravenous and intra-arterial approaches; and (v) adjunctive therapies such asneuroprotectants. Should these means of extending the time window for throm-bolysis prove successful, a more widespread use of this form of acute stroketherapy will be possible.

    Stroke is the second most common cause of death now changed. Morbidity and/or mortality of patientsglobally and a major cause of disability.[1] Until who present with acute ischaemic stroke is reducedquite recently, there were no management or thera- by the administration of oral aspirin (acetylsalicylicpeutic approaches that had been shown to be effec- acid) within 48 hours[2] and use of the thrombolytictive in improving outcomes. Fortunately, this has agent alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen ac-

  • 996 Donnan et al.

    tivator; rtPA) within 3 hours[3] of stroke onset. For its efficacy and reduce complication rates. Fortu-nately, these three issues are inter-related, and theyall forms of stroke, management in a stroke unit alsoare the focus of this article. Rather than undertakingimproves outcomes.[4] Of these strategies, throm-a systematic review of the literature, we have pre-bolysis is the most biologically effective. The num-sented our own views and supported these withber of patients needed to treat to benefit one personappropriate evidence.by preventing disability or death associated with

    stroke is about 83 for aspirin, 18 for management in1. What is the Time Window fora stroke unit and only 16 for alteplase.[5]Tissue Salvage?

    In spite of their biological efficacy, thrombolyticagents have two major shortcomings. First, the dura-

    1.1 Tissue Salvage Generallytion of time between stroke onset and administrationof the drug (or the therapeutic time window) is Tissue salvage relates to the life span of theonly 3 hours; second, haemorrhagic complications ischaemic penumbra. The penumbra may be definedmay occur. For the latter, symptomatic intracranial as functionally compromised but structurally intacthaemorrhage rates are about 7%; overall, intracer- tissue usually adjacent to or surrounding a core ofebral haemorrhage rates about double this fig- infarcted tissue.[12] Theoretically, all penumbral tis-ure.[6-11] Currently, because of these limitations, al- sue has the potential to be salvaged at any giventeplase is only administered in about 12% of pa- time. In natural history studies, about 50% of pen-tients with ischaemic stroke in the US, although in umbral tissue imaged during the acute phases ofsome specialised centres the rate may be as high as stroke survives and about 50% dies.[13-17] The dura-10%. Clearly, there is a need to extend the time tion of the existence of the penumbra seems to varywindow for thrombolytic therapy, further maximise from case to case in clinical studies.[13] Evidence

    from experimental models suggests that the life spanof the penumbra (and time to ischaemic cell death) isdependent upon the degree and duration of the re-duction of cerebral blood flow (CBF).[18]

    There are a large number of data available frominvestigators working with animal models of cere-bral ischaemia, where the time window until tissuedeath occurs is reasonably well documented. Theduration is dependent upon the two factors men-tioned above as well as presumed variations in tissuevulnerability in different animal species. The lifespan of the ischaemic penumbra in various animalmodels is less well understood but again is depen-dent upon both the extent and duration of the reduc-tion of CBF.

    Memezawa et al.[19] used a rat model of arterialmiddle cerebral artery occlusion to show that fol-lowing 15 minutes of vessel occlusion, selectiveneuronal necrosis in the medial caudoputamen oc-curred, after 30 minutes infarcts extended to thelateral caudoputamen with some involvement of theneocortex, and by 60 minutes cortical infarction wasuniversally present. The infarct size increased pro-

    0

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    6InfarctPenumbra (18FMISO)

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    Fig. 1. Loss of ischaemic penumbra (18F-misonidazole [18FMISO]autoradiography) and growth of infarction over 22 hours after 2hours of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats (n 6).Areas from coronal sections at eight defined anatomic planes en-compassing the infarct are shown at (a) 1 hour and (b) 22 hourspost-occlusion (courtesy of the National Stroke Research Institute,Heidelberg West, VIC, Australia).

    Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved. CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14)

  • Increasing the Time Window for Thrombolytics in Stroke 997

    Heiss et al.[20] were able to furnish evidence ofviable tissue on the border zone of infarcts up to 48hours after stroke in a positron emission tomography(PET) study of 16 patients using CBF, cerebralmetabolic rate of oxygen, cerebral metabolic rate ofglucose and oxygen extraction fraction as markersof tissue viability. Using 18FMISO as a PET markerof hypoxic tissue to identify the penumbra, Read etal.[17] were able to document the presence of signif-icant areas of potentially viable tissue up to 42 hourspost-ischaemic stroke, although this technique as a

    Table I. Maximum duration of the ischaemic penumbra in humansafter acute ischaemic stroke as determined using different tech-niques

    Reference Technique Penumbral Maximummeasure duration (h)

    Heiss et al.[20] PET OEF 48

    Read et al.[17] PET 18FMISO 42

    Darby et al.[21] MRI PWI/DWI 24mismatch

    18FMISO = 18F-misonidazole; DWI = diffusion-weighted imaging;MRI = magnetic resonance imaging; OEF = oxygen extractionfraction; PET = positron emission tomography; PWI = perfusion-weighted imaging.

    penumbral marker is still being validated. Longergressively with increasing occlusion time up to duration studies, using magnetic resonance imaging

    (MRI) parameters, have been less frequently carriedabout 120180 minutes, after which the infarct sizeout. Darby et al.[21] showed that perfusion-weighteddid not grow further. This suggests that penumbralimage (PWI)/diffusion-weighted image (DWI) mis-tissue exists in this animal model for only 120180match as an index of the penumbra exists for at leastminutes. In our hands, using a transient thread oc-24 hours poststroke. The proportion of patients withclusion model in rats and 18F-misonidazoleat least some penumbral tissue were shown in MRI(18FMISO), a hypoxic ligand, as a penumbral mark-and/or 18FMISO PET studies to decline from nearlyer, significant 18FMISO uptake was seen for up to 6100% of patients within the first hours of acutehours, and at least some uptake was still present atischaemic stroke to

  • 998 Donnan et al.

    Table II. Animal studies of intravenous (IV) or intra-arterial (IA) administration of thrombolytic agents[23]

    Reference Drug Route of Time to first treatment Mean infarct size with treatment,administration after occlusion (min) relative to control size

    Andersen et al.[27] Alteplase IV 45 0.65

    Carter et al.[28] Alteplase IV 60 0.21

    Alteplase IV 120 0.51

    Del Zoppo et al.[29] Urokinase IA 180 0.22

    Lekieffre et al.[30] Alteplase IV 60 0.45

    Overgaard et al.[31] Alteplase IV 120 0.24

    Sakurama et al.[32] Alteplase IV 5 0.18

    Alteplase IV 180 0.40

    Alteplase IV 360 0.60

    Urokinase IV 5 0.25

    Sereghy et al.[33] Alteplase IV 120 0.20

    Zhang et al.[34] Tenecteplase-alteplase IA 120 0.60

    Tenecteplase-alteplase IA 240 0.82

    Alteplase IV 120 0.67

    Alteplase IV 240 1.10

    animals treated with thrombolytics up to 6 hours by functional recovery of the patient). This de-creases steadily as the time since the onset of strokepost-onset of ischaemia compared with controlincreases, to about 48 hours (figure 4). Superim-groups (table II).[23] For humans, as mentioned earli-posed upon this is the actual tissue salvaged usinger, the time window established for efficacy of intra-thrombolysis. As can be seen from the comparison,venous alteplase for acute ischaemic stroke is 3there is considerable room for improvement in: (i)hours, based on the National Institute of Neuro-the amount of tissue that can be salvaged usinglogical Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) trial.[6] Inter-therapeutic agents; and (ii) the time window duringestingly, in the Australian Streptokinase Trialwhich salvage can occur. Narrowing the recovery(ASK), a trend towards efficacy was seen for ther-gap or tissue salvage gap is the implicit goal of allapy given within 3 hours, although the drug was notresearchers involved in acute stroke therapy trials.effective overall.[24,25] Marler and colleagues[26]

    One means of narrowing the stroke recovery gap ishave shown that the benefit of alteplase diminishesto extend the time window for thrombolysis.with time up to 3 hours, with significantly reduced

    benefit after this. Based on data from the European2. How Does Thrombolysis Work?Cooperative Acute Stroke Study I (ECASS I)[7] and

    the European-Australasian Cooperative Acute Fibrinolysis is triggered by circulating endoge-Stroke Study II (ECASS II),[8] there is no definite nous plasminogen activators (figure 5).[35] Thesebenefit for intravenous alteplase given between 3 are present in very low concentrations (aboutand 6 hours after stroke onset, although a trend 100 000-fold lower than that of plasminogen) andexists. We have conducted a recent meta-analysis of include endogenous plasminogen activators such asall available published data on the use of alteplase in tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and urokinase-acute ischaemic stroke; the asymptotic effect of time type plasminogen activator (uPA). Recombinanton a steadily reducing benefit can be seen in figure forms of these activators such as alteplase and mu-3. tant forms of the human enzyme tenecteplase[36] can

    Based on our understanding of the duration of the be used to trigger the fibrinolytic process. Alterna-ischaemic penumbra in humans, a theoretical model tively, bacterial proteins such as streptokinase orcan be constructed of a maximum amount of tissue staphylokinase may be used.[37] These triggers thenthat can salvaged by an ideal therapy (as represented stimulate the fibrinolytic system by converting plas-

    Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved. CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14)

  • Increasing the Time Window for Thrombolytics in Stroke 999

    minogen to plasmin. Plasmin then cleaves fibrin into These inhibitors, particularly PAI-1[38] andTAFI,[39] represent important potential targets forits degradation products. When thrombolytic ther-therapy, since their inhibition will enhance the fibri-apy is administered, large amounts of plasminogennolytic effects of exogenously administered plasmi-activators (e.g. tPA, uPA, streptokinase) are used,nogen activators.which result in plasma concentrations that are about

    At least one of the plasminogen activators, tPA,1000-fold higher than concentrations of endogenousmay also be potentially neurotoxic.[40] tPA is presentplasminogen activators but still 100-fold lower thanin neurons and microglia and may have other func-concentrations of plasminogen.[35]tions apart from those in the fibrinolytic pathway.There are two phases in the fibrinolytic process.These include roles in cell migration, astrocyte dif-

    In the first phase, plasminogen binds to intact fibrinferentiation and neuron-cell interactions.[41] Tsirka

    and initial fibrinolysis occurs. Then, partly degradedet al.[40,42] provided in vitro evidence that alteplase

    fibrin exposes new binding sites (carboxy terminal exacerbates excitotoxic neuronal degeneration.residues) for plasminogen. In the second phase, fi- Some support for this was shown in vivo in a mousebrinolysis is enhanced because the local plasmi- stroke model where those animals given alteplasenogen concentration is increased and has higher were shown to have larger areas of focal infarc-reactivity. tion,[43] while tPA-deficient transgenic mice had

    The fibrinolytic system is inhibited at at least smaller infarcts than their wild-type litter mates.[43]

    However, these findings have not been confirmed inthree important levels (figure 5):[35]

    rat models of focal ischaemia where alteplase has1. Plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) regu-not altered focal infarct size.[44,45] Although thelates plasminogen activators.mechanism of neurotoxicity remains unclear, there

    2. Plasmin is inhibited by 2-antiplasmin (2-AP) is some evidence that tPA may amplify haemo-and to a lesser extent by 2-macroglobulin. globin-induced neurotoxicity in rat neuronal cul-3. Thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor tures[46] as well as NMDA- and kainic acid-mediated

    neurodegeneration or neuronal death.[40,42,47](TAFI) eliminates carboxy terminal lysine residuesfrom the partially degraded fibrin and hence inhibits Although the findings are of importance concern-the second phase of fibrinolysis. ing possible neurotoxicity of tPA, there is a great

    3 hours

    >36 hours

    Alteplasen/N

    Placebon/N

    OR(95% CI fixed)

    OR(95% CI fixed)

    Alteplase better Placebo better

    0.1 0.2 1 5 10

    ECASS I 28 / 47 28 / 37 0.47 (0.18, 1.23)ECASS II 47 / 81 48 / 77 0.84 (0.44, 1.58)NINDS 179 / 312 229 / 312 0.49 (0.35, 0.68)

    ECASS I 173 / 266 189 / 270 0.80 (0.55, 1.15)ECASS II 197 / 328 200 / 314 0.86 (0.62, 1.18)ATLANTIS 99 / 336 105 / 336 0.92 (0.66, 1.28)

    ATLANTIS 8 / 23 16 / 38 0.73 (0.25, 2.14)Total 262 / 463 321 / 464 0.55 (0.42, 0.73)

    Total 469 / 930 494 / 920 0.86 (0.71, 1.04)

    Fig. 3. Meta-analysis of trials of intravenous alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) in patients with acute ischaemic strokestratified by time windows to administration of therapy (03 hours or >36 hours), in terms of death or dependency as the outcome (courtesyof the National Stroke Research Institute, Heidelberg West, VIC, Australia). ATLANTIS = Alteplase Thrombolysis for Acute Noninterven-tional Therapy in Ischemic Stroke[9]; ECASS I = European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study I[7]; ECASS II = European-AustralasianCooperative Acute Stroke Study II[8]; NINDS = National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke study[6]; OR = odds ratio.

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  • 1000 Donnan et al.

    Acute ischaemic Stroke (DIAS) study, patients arebeing entered up to 9 hours post-stroke onset.[49]

    The EchoPlanar Imaging Thrombolytic Evalua-tion Trial (EPITHET) follows a pilot study in whichpatients who received alteplase 0.9mg/kg werefound to have significantly less infarct growth onMRI (DWI to T2 measure) than historical controlswith similar demographic patterns.[48] This was animportant finding since it was the first therapeuticvalidation of MRI surrogate endpoints in studies ofacute ischaemic stroke. Similar findings were re-ported by Rother et al.[51]

    3 6 24 48

    Time (h)

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    1.0

    AlteplasePotential recovery

    Fig. 4. The relationship between the odds of recovery to nearnormal functional status (compared with controls) and time of initia-tion of thrombolysis after stroke onset. Although alteplase (recombi-nant tissue plasminogen activator) has improved the odds of recov-ery, there is still a considerable stroke recovery gap based on ourunderstanding of the duration of the ischaemic penumbra (courtesyof the National Stroke Research Institute, Heidelberg West, VIC,Australia).

    deal of uncertainty as to whether this is clinicallyimportant. However, the issue has stimulated inves-tigators to identify plasminogen activators that havea benign neurotoxic profile and, hence, may havegreater appeal from a marketing perspective.

    3. Extending the Time Window

    There are a number of potential ways of ex-tending the time window of thrombolysis, includingissues of patient selection, use of newer thromboly-tic agents, varied methods of administration of theseagents and, finally, use of adjunctive therapies.

    3.1 Patient Selection

    As mentioned in section 1.1, the presence of theischaemic penumbra in individual patients seems tovary considerably with time.[13,17] Hence, to extendthe time window of thrombolysis, selection of pa-tients for thrombolytic therapy who have a largepenumbra at timepoints beyond 3 hours is morelikely to result in clinical improvement. This hypo-thesis is being addressed by a number of investiga-tors using MRI with PWI/DWI mismatch as thepenumbral marker.[48,49] The trials are listed in tableIII. As can be seen, the common time window beingtested is 36 hours, but in the Desmoteplase In

    tPA uPA

    Plasminogen

    Plasmin

    Plasminogen Plasmin

    TAFI

    Fibrin FDP

    Plasminogen

    Intact fibrin Partially degraded fibrin

    lys lys lys

    lys

    lyslys

    b

    a

    PAI-1

    2-AP

    2-M

    Fig. 5. (a) The fibrinolytic system: a simplified diagram of the impor-tant elements of thrombolysis showing the points of potential influ-ence of drugs to enhance the process. Plasminogen is activated byconversion to plasmin via tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) andurokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA). These enzymes areregulated by plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1). Plasmin isresponsible for the degradation of fibrin into fibrin degradation prod-ucts (FDP) and is inhibited by 2-antiplasmin (2-AP) and2-macroglobulin (2-M). Thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor(TAFI) is a carboxypeptidase that interferes with the localisation ofplasminogen on the fibrin surface. (b) Increased binding of plasmi-nogen to fibrin: a schematic representation of the weak binding ofplasminogen to intact fibrin and the increased binding to partiallydegraded fibrin. Degradation of intact fibrin by plasmin results in thegeneration of carboxy terminal lysine (lys) residues, which re-present new binding sites for plasminogen (reproduced from Rijkenand Sakharov,[35] with permission from Elsevier).

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  • Increasing the Time Window for Thrombolytics in Stroke 1001

    Table III. Trials of thrombolysis that assessed early perfusion-weighted imaging (PWI) and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) parameters todetermine ideal patterns to prolong the therapeutic window

    Trial Drug Dose and route of Penumbral Study time Sample size Fundingadministration assessment window (h)

    DEFUSE[50] Alteplase 0.9 mg/kg IV MRI PWI/DWI 36 80 National Institutes ofmismatch Health, USA

    DIAS[49] Desmoteplase Escalating IV dose MRI PWI/DWI 39 Tiered phase II; PAION Company,mismatch 690 phase III Germany

    EPITHET[48] Alteplase 0.9 mg/kg IV MRI PWI/DWI 36 120 National Health andmismatch Medical Research

    Council, Australia

    DEFUSE = Diffusion-weighted imaging Evaluation For Understanding Stroke Evolution; DIAS = Desmoteplase In Acute ischaemic Stroke;EPITHET = EchoPlanar Imaging Thrombolytic Evaluation Trial; IV = intravenous; MRI = magnetic resonance imaging.

    Another issue of importance relating to these imaging selection criteria to 35 hours (ECASSIII[52]) and up to 6 hours (The Third Internationaltrials is the inclusion of patients both with andStroke Trial [IST-3][53]).without PWI/DWI mismatch (i.e. those with and

    without penumbra, respectively). In EPITHET, pa-tients are randomised between 3 and 6 hours post- 3.2 Newer Thrombolytic Agentsstroke onset, with both mismatch and nonmismatchpatients included.[48] Hence, if there is a differential Because of the issues of haemorrhagic complica-

    tions and possible neurotoxicity, there is a constantof MRI surrogate outcomes between these two MRIdrive to develop agents with better adverse effectsubgroups, the capacity for it to be detected exists.profiles. In general, the agents discussed in sectionsAlthough it seems logical that those with greater3.2.13.2.5 have at least one of two advantages overmismatch are likely to respond better to thromboly-alteplase: lower toxicity because of higher fibrintic therapy, this has not as yet been proven. Con-specificity or a reported absence of neurotoxicity.versely, in the DIAS trial, only patients with mis-Clearly, should this be the case, the time window formatch (at least 20%) are included prior to randomis-administration of thrombolysis may be extended.ation. Currently, DIAS patients are being studied inAlthough the discussion is not exhaustive, some ofa phase II design with tiered doses of the bat serinethe more important agents are covered.protease desmoteplase (15 patients are receiving

    desmoteplase and four placebo in each tier) in an3.2.1 Staphylokinaseescalating-dose, weight-adjusted design. In theStaphylokinase is highly fibrin selective, the mo-phase III study, patients will be equally randomised

    lecular mechanisms of which have been recentlyto desmoteplase (n = 345) or placebo (n = 345).reviewed.[54] There are two important mechanismsAlthough patients entering the Diffusion-weightedto consider. First, staphylokinase has only a lowimaging Evaluation For Understanding Strokeaffinity for plasminogen in the circulation and plas-Evolution (DEFUSE) trial[50] are not randomised,minogen bound to intact fibrin but a high affinity forboth nonmismatch and mismatch patients are in-plasminogen bound to partially degraded fibrin and

    cluded so that important information about thefor plasmin. This results in an accumulation of

    differential effect on MRI surrogate outcomes men-staphylokinase on the surface of a lysing clot.[55]

    tioned above will also be gleaned.Second, the plasmin-staphylokinase complex is rap-

    For all of these trials, hypotheses concerning idly inhibited by 2-AP in the absence of fibrin (inMRI characteristics that may predict haemorrhagic the circulation) and only slowly in the presence oftransformation and haematoma formation may also fibrin (on the clot surface). Staphylokinase, as yet,be tested. Other investigators have also taken the has not been studied extensively in ischaemicapproach of extending the time window without stroke.[37,56]

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  • 1002 Donnan et al.

    3.2.2 Tenecteplase desmoteplase is by direct activation of plasminogenLike other newer thrombolytic agents, tenecte- to plasmin (figure 5a).[49] Desmoteplase appears to

    plase is more fibrin-specific than alteplase be more fibrin specific than alteplase and therefore(14-fold).[57] Interestingly, it may also have a rela- may have a lower haemorrhagic transformation pro-tive resistance to PAI-1.[36] It also has a longer file. Further, desmoteplase did not appear to havebiological half-life such that bolus administration is the neurotoxicity of tPA when the effects of kainicpossible. Its high fibrin specificity allows tenecte- acid striatal toxicity were studied.[47] A phase IIAplase to be active at the site of high fibrin concentra- trial in patients with acute myocardial infarctiontions, such as within recent clots, rather than system- (DEEP) has recently been conducted. For acute is-ically. Tenecteplase has already been studied in chaemic stroke, the MRI-based DIAS trial (see sec-trials of ischaemic heart disease[58-60] and, in general, tion 3.1) is currently underway, and a similar trial,does not appear to be associated with any increase in the Dose Escalation Study of Desmoteplase in Acutethe incidence of cerebral haemorrhage compared Ischemic Stroke (DEDAS), is planned for the US.with alteplase. Another theoretical advantage of ten-ecteplase is the lack of a plasminogen steal ef- 3.2.4 Pro-urokinasefect[59] (a paradoxical decrease in the efficacy of

    Pro-urokinase is a glycosylated 411-amino-acidalteplase may be seen when plasminogen leechessingle-chain proenzyme precursor of urokinase. It isfrom the clot in the presence of high alteplase con-derived from transfected murine SP2/0 hybridomacentrations).[61]cells.[64] Single-chain r-pro-urokinase is activated toThere have been a number of promising studiestwo-chain urokinase at the thrombus surface by fi-in animal models suggesting that tenecteplase maybrin-associated plasmin.[65] Interestingly, the throm-be a useful alternative to alteplase. In a rabbit em-bolytic effect of pro-urokinase is augmented by he-bolic stroke model, tenecteplase-treated animals hadparin, possibly through thrombin neutralisation orfewer associated cerebral haemorrhages than con-by stimulating tPA release from the endotheli-trols,[57] although in a comparative study betweenum.[66,67]alteplase and tenecteplase in a similar model[62]

    After a pilot study (Pro-urokinase in Acute Cere-there was no significant difference between the twobral Thromboembolism [PROACT] I), PROACT II(similar cerebral haemorrhage rates). In a rat embol-was conducted in 54 centres in the US and Cana-ic model of ischaemic stroke, a tenecteplase-al-da.[10] 180 patients with acute ischaemic stroke of

  • Increasing the Time Window for Thrombolytics in Stroke 1003

    3.2.5 Ancrod of 0.8 mg/kg (10% administered as a bolus, with theAncrod can be loosely termed a thrombolytic remainder over 90 minutes) in an open observational

    agent in that it produces rapid defibrinogenation by study. The time window adopted was 7 hours, thesplitting fibrinopeptide A from fibrinogen.[68,69] This longest yet studied systematically. This study alsocauses anticoagulation by depleting the substrate involved anticoagulation with heparin or nadro-needed for thrombus formation. Blood viscosity is parin. Intravenous heparin (to achieve an activatedalso decreased, and the products of defibrinogena- partial thromboplastin time of 1.5 baseline value)tion may also enhance local clot-specific throm- was given immediately after alteplase (n = 31) orbolysis by stimulating endogenous plasminogen ac- within 24 hours (n = 41), while subcutaneous nadro-tivators.[70] The removal of fibrinogen also has an parin was given immediately after alteplase (n = 9;antiaggregant effect on platelets, because it is a dose of 3075IU anti-XaIU). At 3 months, 45% ofligand for aggregation at the IIb/IIIa receptor patients had a good outcome (modified Rankin scoresites.[71] 01), and the overall symptomatic haemorrhage rate

    After two small, double-blind, randomised, pla- was 7%.cebo-controlled trials of ancrod with time windows Since these safety and outcome profiles are simi-of 6 hours suggested a possible benefit on clinical lar to those in the NINDS study,[6] even in theoutcome measures (Scandinavian Stroke Scale), the presence of heparinisation, the use of longer timeStroke Treatment with Ancrod Trial (STAT) was windows with lower doses of thrombolytic agentsconducted in the US.[72] In this trial, 500 patients may be worthwhile.were randomised to receive either ancrod or placebowithin 3 hours of ischaemic stroke onset. A signif- 3.4 Varied Methods of Administrationicant outcome benefit was seen for ancrod (favoura-

    The great advantage of intravenous administra-ble outcome of Barthel index 95: 42.2% in thetion of alteplase is that it may be given quickly in aancrod group vs 34.4% in the placebo group; p =variety of clinical settings. However, its major dis-0.04). Symptomatic bleeding occurred in 5.2% ofadvantage is that the concentration of drug at the sitepatients treated with ancrod and 2.0% in the placeboof vessel occlusion may not be great enough to causegroup. A better outcome was achieved with lowerlysis in every case. In these circumstances, it seemsfibrinogen concentrations, and symptomatic in-logical that intra-arterial administration may betracerebral haemorrhage was more likely to occurmore appropriate, since higher local but lower sys-under these circumstances.temic concentrations of the thrombolytic agent mayA parallel European trial with ancrod using abe given and hence lower systemic complication6-hour time window was also commenced, but therates incurred. Further, mechanical disruption of thestudy was prematurely terminated because of aclot also may be possible during the angiographicfailed futility assessment at a pre-planned interimprocedure. The paradigm for the intra-arterial ap-analysis.[73] Further, the 90-day mortality was higherproach was shown in the PROACT II trial discussedin the ancrod group than the placebo group.in section 3.2.4.[10]It is unclear whether this agent will be developed

    The combined intravenous/intra-arterial ap-further using the shorter 3-hour time window used inproach has been adopted by a number of investiga-the US trial.tors, as summarised in table IV. It was first studiedby Freitag et al.,[76] who used combined intravenous3.3 Lower Doses of Thrombolytic Agentsalteplase with intra-arterial plasmin. The combina-

    The use of lower doses of thrombolytic agents is tion produced higher recanalisation rates than hada logical approach to reduce adverse effects. It has been reported previously with either approach alone.been adopted by Trouillas and colleagues,[74,75] who In the Emergency Management of Stroke (EMS)treated 100 patients with a reduced dose of alteplase Bridging Trial,[77] combination intravenous/intra-ar-

    Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved. CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14)

  • 1004 Donnan et al.

    terial alteplase versus intra-arterial alteplase alone showing at least an additive effect.[27,30,31,33,88-94]

    was used within 3 hours of stroke onset. The advan- These are summarised in table V. Important pointstage of this trial was its double-blind, randomised, to note are that the experimental models have allplacebo-controlled design. Again, combined treat- involved elements of reperfusion, including the ratment resulted in higher recanalisation rates (53% vs thromboembolic model, which is perhaps closest to28%) with an acceptable safety and outcome profile; the human paradigm. However, because of the vari-there was no difference in clinical outcome between able extent of infarction in this model, somewhatthe two groups although there were more deaths in larger sample sizes are required. This may, in part,the intravenous/intra-arterial group (see table IV). be an explanation for the negative findings of Over-Other smaller open studies[78,79] also showed superi- gaard et al.,[31] who used a combination ofor recanalisation rates for combined intravenous/ 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo[f]quinox-intra-arterial administration (about 7080%) com- aline (NBQX) with alteplase and showed that al-pared with previously reported rates with intrave- though both drugs individually reduced infarct size,nous therapy alone. Two studies[80,81] have used a there was no significant additive effect with thecombined intravenous/intra-arterial approach to- combination. Limited sample sizes may also ac-gether with selection of patients based on MRI PWI/ count for negative findings with other neuropro-DWI criteria. Again, recanalisation rates were great- tectants.[93,94] This issue needs to be explored furtherer (80%) than those previously reported with intra- in larger animal models, using differing time win-venous therapy alone. Finally, a reverse approach dows to therapy to get a better understanding of thewith intra-arterial therapy preceding the intravenous conditions under which additive effects may occur.contribution has been studied openly, the rationale In clinical studies, far fewer data are availablebeing that the early intra-arterial approach would (table VI).[95-97] Unfortunately, sample sizes have allmaximise the probability of recanalisation while been too small to assess clinical outcomes but, im-continuous intravenous infusion would increase the portantly, combination therapies have raised noefficacy of therapy.[82] For all of these combined safety issues. In the largest study, the Acute Strokeapproach studies, sample sizes were too small to Therapy by Inhibition of Neutrophils (ASTIN) trial,sensibly interpret outcome data apart from recanal- approximately 20% of patients with acute ischaemicisation rates. Pleasingly, haemorrhagic complication stroke treated with neutrophil inhibitory factorrates above those seen in the NINDS study were not (NIF) within 6 hours of ischaemic stroke onset re-observed.[26] ceived alteplase.[97] There was no reported inter-

    action of effect between alteplase and NIF and,3.5 Adjunctive Therapies equally importantly, no safety issues were raised.

    3.5.2 Drugs Enhancing The Thrombolytic Process3.5.1 NeuroprotectantsThe principal of combination neuroprotectant Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 Inhibitors

    plus thrombolysis therapy is 2-fold. First, a The PAI-1 inhibitor is the most important inhibi-neuroprotectant administered early after stroke on- tor of tPA (figure 5a). Although it is present inset may freeze the penumbra, slowing the cascade relatively low concentrations in plasma, its localof neurochemical events until reperfusion can be concentration in platelet-rich thrombi is relativelyachieved using thrombolysis. Second, the neuropro- high because of its presence in platelets. Hence, it istectant may act as a free radical scavenger, limiting likely to be extremely important during thromboly-reperfusion injury to penumbral tissue once throm- tic therapy. Of interest is that tenecteplase-alteplasebolysis is achieved.[84-87] has a relative resistance to PAI-1.[36] Lindgren et

    There is a considerable number of data from al.[98] studied 135 stroke patients and 77 controlsexperimental studies in animal models to support within 7 days after stroke onset and again 24 yearsboth of these views, with a number of combinations later (a subset of 32 patients and 18 controls). The

    Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved. CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14)

  • Increasing the Tim

    e Wind

    ow for T

    hrombolytics in Stroke

    1005

    A

    dis D

    ata

    Info

    rma

    tion

    BV 2003. A

    ll righ

    ts rese

    rved

    .C

    NS D

    rug

    s 2003; 17 (14)

    Table IV. Combined intravenous (IV)/intra-arterial (IA) thrombolysis

    Reference Study design Sample Dose of IV IV RCN (%) Dose of IV/IA IV/IA RCN (%) Commentsize alteplase (mg/ alteplase (mg/kg)

    kg) [hours afterstroke onset]

    Ernst et al.[78] RT, open 20 0.6 up to 60mg 0.3 up to 24mg 69 Rankin score 02, 63%

    Freitag et al.[76] NR, open 20 10mg (total) a Lysine-plasminogen as adjunct

    Hill et al.[81] NR, open 7 0.9 0.9 up to 20mg 86 PWI/DWI mismatch for selection; IA given

    before IV

    IMS[83] NR 80 0.6 Up to 22mg (2h) 57 Rankin 01, 30%; average alteplase dose

    59mg (NINDS 69mg); ICH 6%

    Keris et al.[82] NR, open 45 0.6 25mg (total) 50 Reverse approach IA/IV

    Lewandowski et al.[77] RCT, IV/IA 34 0.6 (maximum 28 (placebo) 20mg over 2h 53 No difference in clinical outcome; more

    (EMS Bridging Trial) alteplase vs IV 60mg) [3h] deaths in the active treatment group; ICH

    placebo/IA not different

    alteplase

    Suarez et al.[80] NR, open 45 0.6 [3h] b 75 Patients selected for IA based on PWI/DWI

    mismatch and MRA

    Zaidat et al.[79] RT, open 18 0.6 up to 30mg 80 Patients studied with carotid occlusion

    a IA 2500 activated lysine-plasminogen.

    b Alteplase, urokinase based on MRA, MRI PWI/DWI.

    DWI = diffusion-weighted imaging; EMS = Emergency Management of Stroke; ICH = intracerebral haemorrhage; IMS = Intravenous Management of Stroke study; MRA = magnetic

    resonance angiography; MRI = magnetic resonance imaging; NINDS = National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; NR = nonrandomised; PWI = perfusion-weighted

    imaging; RCN = recanalisation; RCT = randomised controlled trial; RT = retrospective.

  • 1006 Donnan et al.

    tPA antigen concentration was found to be an inde-pendent discriminator between ischaemic stroke pa-tients and controls, as were PAI-1 concentrations (p= 0.05). At re-examination 24 years later, neithertPA nor PAI-1 concentrations had changed signifi-cantly from baseline values. The high PAI-1 con-centrations infer increased fibrinolytic inhibition inacute ischaemic stroke and may represent a thera-peutic target to enhance thrombolysis. In other stud-ies, normal[99,100] concentrations of PAI-1 have beendocumented in the acute phases of stroke. To date,no experimental models or clinical stroke studieshave been conducted.

    Direct Thrombin Inhibitors

    Direct thrombin inhibitors are, more accurately,anticoagulants. Thrombin is central in the thrombot-ic process in that it is a potent platelet agonist andrecruits additional platelets after being exposed totissue factor. Thrombin also converts fibrinogen tofibrin, which then stabilises platelet aggregates. Di-rect thrombin inhibitors were developed to helpovercome the problem of the heparin/antithrombincomplex to inactivate bound thrombin satisfactori-ly.[101] Direct thrombin inhibitors have been exten-sively studied in myocardial ischaemia, and a meta-analysis was performed recently.[102] Based on thismeta-analysis, direct thrombin inhibitors seem to besuperior to heparin for the prevention of death ormyocardial infarction in patients with acute corona-ry syndromes. Compared with heparin, there was anincreased risk of major bleeding with the directthrombin inhibitor hirudin but a reduction withbivalirudin.

    Little work with this class of drugs has been donein acute ischaemic stroke. Mikulski et al.[103] showedthat oral or intravenous direct thrombin inhibitorsreduced the size of photochemically induced corti-cal infarction in rats. Given the failure of heparin toimprove outcomes in acute ischaemic stroke, it isuncertain whether direct thrombin inhibitors will bestudied extensively in clinical stroke trials.

    Thrombin-Activatable Fibrinolysis Inhibitors

    TAFI has been only recently isolated from plas-ma.[39] It represents a link between coagulation andfibrinolysis because its pro-enzyme is activated by

    Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved. CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14)

    Tab

    le V

    . E

    xper

    imen

    tal s

    tudi

    es u

    sing

    ani

    mal

    mod

    els

    of in

    tera

    ctio

    n be

    twee

    n th

    rom

    boly

    tic a

    nd n

    euro

    prot

    ectiv

    e ag

    ents

    Ref

    eren

    ceN

    euro

    prot

    ecta

    ntM

    echa

    nism

    of

    actio

    nT

    hrom

    boly

    ticE

    xper

    imen

    tal m

    odel

    Out

    com

    eag

    ent

    And

    erse

    n et

    al.[

    27]

    Citi

    colin

    eM

    embr

    ane

    repa

    ir, r

    educ

    es F

    Fa

    Alte

    plas

    eR

    at t

    hrom

    boem

    bolic

    Add

    itive

    rele

    ase

    Bow

    es e

    t al

    .[90]

    Mon

    oclo

    nal a

    ntib

    odie

    s ag

    ains

    tA

    nti-i

    nfla

    mm

    ator

    yA

    ltepl

    ase

    Rab

    bit

    Add

    itive

    leuc

    ocyt

    e ad

    hesi

    on m

    olec

    ules

    Leki

    effr

    e et

    al.[

    30]

    Elip

    rodi

    lN

    MD

    A r

    ecep

    tor

    anta

    goni

    st (

    poly

    ?)A

    ltepl

    ase

    Rat

    thr

    ombo

    embo

    licA

    dditi

    veV

    SC

    C a

    ntag

    onis

    t

    Oro

    zco

    et a

    l.[94

    ]21

    am

    ino

    ster

    oid

    (U7+

    006F

    )F

    ree

    radi

    cal s

    cave

    nger

    Alte

    plas

    eR

    abbi

    tN

    o ad

    ditiv

    e ef

    fect

    Ove

    rgaa

    rd e

    t al

    .[31]

    NB

    QX

    AM

    PA

    rec

    epto

    r an

    tago

    nist

    Alte

    plas

    eR

    at t

    hrom

    boem

    bolic

    No

    addi

    tive

    effe

    ct

    San

    chez

    et

    al.[9

    3]U

    -743

    89-G

    Fre

    e ra

    dica

    l sca

    veng

    erA

    ltepl

    ase

    Rat

    thr

    ombo

    embo

    licN

    o ad

    ditiv

    e ef

    fect

    Ser

    eghy

    et

    al.[3

    3]D

    izoc

    ilpin

    eN

    MD

    A r

    ecep

    tor

    anta

    goni

    stA

    ltepl

    ase

    Rat

    thr

    ombo

    embo

    licA

    dditi

    ve

    Shu

    aib

    et a

    l.[89

    ]C

    itico

    line

    Mem

    bran

    e re

    pair,

    red

    uces

    FF

    aU

    roki

    nase

    Rat

    thr

    ombo

    embo

    licA

    dditi

    vere

    leas

    e

    Yan

    g et

    al.[

    88]

    Top

    iram

    ate

    Enh

    ance

    s G

    AB

    A,

    inhi

    bits

    glu

    tam

    ate

    Uro

    kina

    seR

    atA

    dditi

    vere

    leas

    e

    Zha

    ng e

    t al

    .[91]

    Mon

    oclo

    nal a

    ntib

    odie

    s ag

    ains

    tA

    nti-i

    nfla

    mm

    ator

    yA

    ltepl

    ase

    Rat

    Add

    itive

    leuc

    ocyt

    e ad

    hesi

    on m

    olec

    ules

    Zha

    ng e

    t al

    .[92]

    Pro

    teas

    ome

    inhi

    bito

    r (P

    S-5

    19)

    Ant

    i-inf

    lam

    mat

    ory

    Alte

    plas

    eR

    at t

    hrom

    boem

    bolic

    Add

    itive

    FF

    a =

    fre

    e fa

    tty a

    cid;

    NB

    QX

    = 2

    ,3-d

    ihyd

    roxy

    -6-n

    itro-

    7-su

    lfam

    oyl-b

    enzo

    [f]qu

    inox

    alin

    e; V

    SC

    C =

    vol

    tage

    -sen

    sitiv

    e ca

    lciu

    m c

    hann

    els.

  • Increasing the Time Window for Thrombolytics in Stroke 1007

    thrombin during blood clotting. Potato carboxy pep-tidase inhibitor (PCPI) can inhibit TAFI. The prima-ry mechanism of action of PCPI relates to thecarboxy peptidase B activity of TAFI, whichremoves carboxy terminal lysine residues from de-grading fibrin and, possibly, cellular binding sites ofplasminogen.[104] There is some evidence that exog-enous lysis during thrombolytic therapy might beinfluenced by the TAFI system. For example, anti-bodies against TAFI increased endogenous lysis2-fold in a rabbit jugular vein thrombolysismodel.[105] Further, models of thrombolysis in rab-bits show that the administration of PCPI togetherwith alteplase significantly improves alteplase-in-duced thrombolysis.[106-108]

    3.5.3 Drugs ReducingHaemorrhagic ComplicationsUnder conditions of brain injury such as ischae-

    mia, haemorrhage or trauma, it has been shown thata class of zinc-dependent matrix metalloproteinases(MMPs) are upregulated.[109,110] In their role as ex-tracellular proteases, it has been shown that MMPshave the ability to degrade the extracellular matrix.After reperfusion (e.g. with alteplase), uncontrolledMMP activation may result in degradation of pro-teins such as collagen and laminin within the basillamina. This phenomenon seems to be associatedwith haemorrhagic transformation, probably be-cause of disruption of these membrane proteinswithin vascular structures, thus leading to diapedesisand haemorrhage.[109,110] There is a relationship be-tween free radical oxidative damage and reperfusioninjury. This may be via the link between free radicalinjury and MMP upregulation, which has been re-cently demonstrated. Interestingly, alteplase mayalso be linked biochemically with MMP proteolysis,with plasmin acting as an intermediary step andupstream activator of the MMP cascade.[111]

    There have been several experimental studies inwhich MMP inhibitors have been shown to reducehaemorrhagic transformation associated with al-teplase.[112,113] Similarly, the spin-trap agent -phen-yl-N-t-butylnitrone was found to reduce the amountof haemorrhagic transformation, in a focal rabbitmodel of cerebral ischaemia.[113] This suggests that

    Adis Data Information BV 2003. All rights reserved. CNS Drugs 2003; 17 (14)

    Tab

    le V

    I. C

    linic

    al s

    tudi

    es o

    f th

    e tr

    eatm

    ent

    of a

    cute

    isch

    aem

    ic s

    trok

    e w

    ith c

    ombi

    natio

    n th

    erap

    y

    Ref

    eren

    ceN

    euro

    prot

    ecta

    ntM

    echa

    nism

    Thr

    ombo

    lytic

    age

    ntS

    tudy

    des

    ign

    Sam

    ple

    Tim

    e w

    indo

    w t

    oO

    utco

    me

    of a

    ctio

    nsi

    zetr

    eatm

    ent

    (h)

    Gro

    tta[9

    5]IV

    lube

    luzo

    le 7

    .5m

    g ov

    erM

    ultip

    leIV

    alte

    plas

    e 0.

    9 m

    g/kg

    RC

    T90

    3N

    o sa

    fety

    issu

    es

    1 ho

    ur,

    then

    con

    tinuo

    us

    5-da

    y in

    fusi

    on o

    f

    10 m

    g/da

    y

    Lyde

    n et

    al.[

    96]

    IV c

    lom

    ethi

    azol

    eM

    ultip

    leIV

    alte

    plas

    e 0.

    9 m

    g/kg

    ,R

    CT

    101

    3N

    o sa

    fety

    issu

    es

    68 m

    g/kg

    max

    imum

    90m

    g

    Hac

    ke e

    t al

    .[97]

    IV N

    IF,

    esca

    latin

    g do

    seN

    eutr

    ophi

    lIV

    alte

    plas

    e 0.

    9 m

    g/kg

    Ada

    ptiv

    e R

    CT

    966

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