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Neuroscience. 2012 Sep 18;220:302-12. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.06.015. Epub 2012 Jun 16.

A Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, fasudil, prevents matrix metalloproteinase-9-related hemorrhagic transformation in mice treated with tissue plasminogen activator.

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Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Biofunctional Evaluation, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Gifu, Japan.


Thrombolysis with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only FDA-approved therapy for acute ischemic stroke. However, hemorrhagic transformation, neurotoxicity, and a short treatment time window comprise major limitations for thrombolytic therapy. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether fasudil, a Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, would prevent tPA-associated hemorrhagic transformation and extend the reperfusion window in an experimental stroke model in mice. Mice subjected to 6-h middle cerebral artery occlusion were treated with delayed tPA alone, with combined tPA plus fasudil, or with a vehicle. We used histological and neurobehavioral measures to assess the effects of the treatment at 18 h and 7 days after the reperfusion. To investigate the mechanism of fasudil's beneficial effects further, we also performed an in vitro study with tPA and fasudil in human brain microvascular endothelial cells. Combination therapy with tPA plus fasudil prevented the development of hemorrhagic transformation, but did not reduce the infarct volumes. These changes significantly reduced mortality and increased locomotor activity at 7 days after the reperfusion. Furthermore, the administration of both drugs prevented injury to the human brain endothelial cells via the reduction of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity. These findings indicate that fasudil prevents the hemorrhagic transformation induced by focal cerebral ischemia in mice treated with tPA, at least in part, by inhibiting the increased activity of MMP-9 in endothelial cells.

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