Background and purpose: Cerebrolysin is a compound with neurotrophic and neuroprotective activity. It is produced by enzymatic breakdown of purified brain proteins and consists of low molecular weight peptides and amino acids. Cellular and animal models of cerebral ischaemia have shown that it is a potent neuroprotective agent. We explored the safety and preliminary outcome of Cerebrolysin treatment in patients with acute stroke.
Methods: Randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial. Patients with acute stroke were randomised within 24 h of stroke onset to IV therapy with placebo or Cerebrolysin 50 mL/day for 21 days. Both groups received concomitant treatment with ASA 250 mg/day PO and pentoxifylline 300 mg/day IV. Clinical examinations were performed on days 1, 3, 7, 21 and 90 post baseline. Outcome measures were the Canadian Neurological Scale, the Barthel Index, the Clinical Global Impressions, the Mini-Mental State Examination, and the Syndrome Short Test. Treatment emergent adverse events, lab tests, and vital signs were recorded to assess the safety of Cerebrolysin.
Results: 146 patients were enrolled in two groups: 78 Cerebrolysin and 68 placebo. At baseline, no significant group differences were observed. Patients in the Cerebrolysin group had no significant improvement in the CNS score, the Barthel Index and the Clinical Global Impressions when compared to the placebo group. A significant improvement of cognitive function of the patients on Cerebrolysin was observed in the Syndrome Short Test when compared to the placebo group. Cerebrolysin was well tolerated and safe. Adverse events occurred with a similar frequency in both groups.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate that neurotrophic treatment with Cerebrolysin is safe and well tolerated by patients with acute stroke. The findings, despite the small sample size, also indicate a potential treatment effect of Cerebrolysin in acute stroke. Larger studies, however, are needed to confirm and extend these findings.