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Neurosurgery. 2002 Nov;51(5):1128-34; discussion 1134-5.

Serum von Willebrand factor, matrix metalloproteinase-9, and vascular endothelial growth factor levels predict the onset of cerebral vasospasm after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage.

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  • 1Multidisciplinary Neuroprotection Laboratory, Medical Center, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



Endothelial damage and intimal proliferation occur in vasospastic cerebral arteries after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). In the peripheral vasculature, endothelial damage increases intimal matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels, causing neointimal proliferation. We hypothesized that serum von Willebrand factor (vWF) (a marker of endothelial cell death), MMP-9, and VEGF levels could serve as prognostic markers in predicting the occurrence of cerebral vasospasm.


Venous serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels were prospectively measured daily, for 12 days or until the onset of vasospasm, for 45 consecutive patients admitted with SAH (n = 38) or admitted for elective aneurysm clipping (control subjects, n = 7). The development of transcranial Doppler flow velocities of more than 180 cm/s and/or new focal neurological deficits with angiographically confirmed vasospasm was considered the onset of vasospasm. To establish whether these markers were specific for vasospasm versus ischemia, blood samples were obtained from a concurrent group of 42 patients within 24 hours after stroke onset unrelated to SAH.


Fifty-seven percent of patients (22 of 38 patients) developed vasospasm, 4 to 11 days after SAH (median, 7 d). Mean peak serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels were increased in the SAH prevasospasm cohort, compared with the SAH nonvasospasm cohort (vWF, 5526 +/- 929 versus 4934 +/- 599 ng/ml, P = 0.01; MMP-9, 705 +/- 338 versus 438 +/- 154 ng/ml, P = 0.006; VEGF, 0.12 +/- 0.06 versus 0.06 +/- 0.06 ng/ml, P = 0.023). Mean peak vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels for the focal ischemia cohort (vWF, 4645 +/- 875 ng/ml, P = 0.01; MMP-9, 250 +/- 308 ng/ml, P = 0.001; VEGF, 0.03 +/- 0.04 ng/ml, P = 0.001) were markedly lower in comparison with the SAH prevasospasm cohort and were unchanged in comparison with the control cohort. vWF levels of more than 5500 ng/ml, VEGF levels of more than 0.12 ng/ml, and MMP levels of more than 700 ng/ml each independently increased the odds of subsequent vasospasm (18-, 20-, and 25-fold, respectively).


The development of cerebral vasospasm after SAH was preceded by increases in serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels. Increased serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels could accurately predict the onset of cerebral vasospasm after SAH. These factors were not elevated by SAH alone or in a separate cohort of patients with ischemic stroke, suggesting that these factors might play a role in the pathogenesis of human cerebral vasospasm.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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