Background: There are still dilemmas about the vasodilating effect of vinpocetine, a synthetic ethyl alkaloid vincamine. The method of measuring cerebral vasomotor reactivity (VMR) by transcranial Doppler (TCD) technique before and after administration of the medication was used to estimate the degree of arterioles vasodilatation. The aim of this study was to test of the vasodilating effect of vinpocetine in patients with cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) by measuring cerebral VMR.
Material and methods: Thirty patients with SVD were on 3-month-long oral treatment with 15 mg vinpocetine daily. Cerebral VMR was determined by breath holding test. The breath holding index (BHI) was calculated in standard manner and values > 0.69 were considered normal. At the baseline, before treatment (I), BHI, modified Rankin scale (mRS) score, Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score were determined. One month later (II) BHI was assessed again, while after 3 months of treatment (III) we analyzed BHI, mRS score and MMSE score.
Results: The average age of patients was 61.4 +/- 11.5 years (range 40 to 77 years), 18 (60%) female and 12 (40%) males. Values of BHIs were increased during treatment at the right MCA (I) 1.18 +/- 0.53, (II) 1.26 +/- 0.54, (III) 1.37 +/- 0.41, with statistical significance between I and III measurement (p < 0.05). An increase was noted on the left MCA (I) 1.25 +/- 0.53, (II) 1.31 +/- 0.55 and (III) 1.32 +/- 0.42, but it did not reach statistical significance (p > 0.05). Mean MMSE score significantly increased from baseline 27.4 +/- 2.3 to 28.5 +/- 2.0 after three months of treatment (p < 0.001). Functional status showed a statistically significant improvement with mRS score increasing from 2.1 +/- 1.0 to 1.1 +/- 0.6 (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: This pilot study showed that 3-month-long oral treatment with vinpocetine 15 mg daily had tendency to increase BHI, indicating improvement of cerebral VMR. It is possible that higher doses of vinpocetine are needed to achieve substantial increase of VMR.