Tissue type plasminogen activator is the only approved thrombolytic agent for the treatment of ischemic stroke. However, it carries the disadvantage of a 10-fold increase in symptomatic and asymptomatic intracranial hemorrhage. A safer thrombolytic agent may improve patient prognosis and increase patient participation in thrombolytic treatment. A novel direct-acting thrombolytic agent, Δ(K2-K5) plasmin, promising an improved safety profile was examined for safety in the snare ligature model of stroke in the rat.
Male spontaneously hypertensive rats were subjected to 6 hours middle cerebral artery occlusion followed by 18 hours reflow. Beginning 1 minute before reflow, they were dosed with saline, vehicle, Δ(K2-K5) plasmin (0.15, 0.5, 1.5, and 5 mg/kg) or recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator (10 and 30 mg/kg) by local intra-arterial infusion lasting 10 to 60 minutes. The rats were assessed for bleeding score, infarct volume, modified Bederson score and general behavioral score. In a parallel study, temporal progression of infarct volume was determined. In an in vitro study, whole blood clots from humans, canines and rats were exposed to Δ(K2-K5). Clot lysis was monitored by absorbance at 280 nm.
The main focus of this study was intracranial hemorrhage safety. Δ(K2-K5) plasmin treatment at the highest dose caused no more intracranial hemorrhage than the lowest dose of recombinant tissue type plasminogen activator, but showed at least a 5-fold superior safety margin. Secondary results include: temporal infarct volume progression shows that the greatest expansion of infarct volume occurs within 2–3 hours of middle cerebral artery occlusion in the spontaneously hypertensive rat. A spike in infarct volume was observed at 6 hours ischemia with reflow. Δ(K2-K5) plasmin tended to reduce infarct volume and improve behavior compared to controls. In vitro data suggests that Δ(K2-K5) plasmin is equally effective at lysing clots from humans, canines and rats.
The superior intracranial hemorrhage safety profile of the direct-acting thrombolytic Δ(K2-K5) plasmin compared with recombinant tissue type plasminogen activator makes this agent a good candidate for clinical evaluation in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke.