Pharmacological Revascularization of Acute Ischaemic Stroke: Focus on Challenges and Novel Strategies

CNS Drugs, 04/02/2012

Smadja D – Add–on IV drugs could be an antiplatelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor antagonist, a direct thrombin inhibitor or a second thrombolytic agent, e.g. tenecteplase. However, neuroimaging to measure the clot burden and infarction size will probably be necessary to predict IV alteplase failure and the subsequent use of these eventual additional therapies.

  • The only currently approved treatment for acute ischaemic stroke (AIS) is alteplase, a thrombolytic agent given intravenously (IV) within 4.5 hours of symptom onset, in an attempt to reopen occluded intracerebral arteries.
  • However, no more than 5% of all AIS patients receive IV alteplase, mainly because of too long symptom–onset–to–hospital intervals.
  • Moreover, this strategy is effective for less than half of the patients treated within the therapeutic window.
  • Early recanalization is the most powerful prognostic factor, and novel drugs or therapeutic strategies are primarily aimed at improving alteplase efficacy to rapidly and safely reopen the occluded arteries.
  • Because IV alteplase–resistant thrombi are those with the largest clot burden, responsible for the most devastating brain–tissue infarctions, development of novel approved AIS therapies is an urgent priority.
  • At present, in the absence of controlled trials, no valid recommendations can be made.
  • However, the most promising emerging strategy is a combination of standard or low–dose IV alteplase with an intra–arterial (IA) procedure, including additional endovascular thrombolytic and/or mechanical clot retrieval.
  • Notably, results of open trials using the IA route had relatively disappointing clinical outcomes, despite remarkable arterial recanalization rates.
  • Controlled trials are urgently needed to evaluate strategies including an IA route.
  • In addition, logistic and cost constraints will likely limit their routine use, even in industrialized countries.
  • Combining of another IV drug and IV alteplase is a far less studied option, although much easier to implement.

Print Article Summary Cat 2 CME Report