Background and purpose: Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only approved therapy for acute ischemic stroke. However, tPA has a brief therapeutic window. Its side effects include intracerebral bleeding and neurotoxicity. Therefore, a combination therapy with tPA and agents that can extend the therapeutic window of tPA and/or counteract its side effects are warranted. Here, we studied whether 3K3A-APC, a neuroprotective analog of activated protein C with reduced anticoagulant activity, can enhance the therapeutic effects of tPA in models of ischemic stroke in rodents.
Methods: Human recombinant tPA (10 mg/kg), alone or in combination with human recombinant 3K3A-APC (2 mg/kg), was administered intravenously 4 hours after proximal or distal transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice and embolic stroke in rats. The 3K3A-APC was additionally administered for 3 to 4 consecutive days after stroke. The neuropathological and neurological analyses were performed at 1 to 7 days after stroke.
Results: In all models, tPA alone had no effects on the infarct volume or behavior (ie, neurological score, foot-fault, forelimb asymmetry, adhesive removal) compared with vehicle. The tPA and 3K3A-APC combination therapy reduced the infarct volume 24 hours and 7 days after proximal or distal transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice and 7 days after embolic stroke in rats by 65%, 63%, and 52%, respectively, significantly (P<0.05) improved behavior and eliminated tPA-induced intracerebral microhemorrhages.
Conclusions: The 3K3A-APC extends the therapeutic window of tPA for ischemic stroke in rodents. Therefore, this combination therapy also should be considered for treating stroke in humans.