Rationale: Delayed ischemic neurological deficit is the most common cause of neurological impairment and unfavorable prognosis in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Despite the existence of neuroimaging modalities that depict the onset of the accompanying cerebral vasospasm, preventive and therapeutic options are limited and fail to improve outcome owing to an insufficient pathomechanistic understanding of the delayed perfusion deficit. Previous studies have suggested that BOXes (bilirubin oxidation end products), originating from released heme surrounding ruptured blood vessels, are involved in arterial vasoconstriction. Recently, isolated intermediates of oxidative bilirubin degradation, known as PDPs (propentdyopents), have been considered as potential additional effectors in the development of arterial vasoconstriction.
Objective: To investigate whether PDPs and BOXes are present in hemorrhagic cerebrospinal fluid and involved in the vasoconstriction of cerebral arterioles.
Methods and results: Via liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, we measured increased PDP and BOX concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid of SAH patients compared with control subjects. Using differential interference contrast microscopy, we analyzed the vasoactivity of PDP isomers in vitro by monitoring the arteriolar diameter in mouse acute brain slices. We found an arteriolar constriction on application of PDPs in the concentration range that occurs in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with SAH. By imaging arteriolar diameter changes using 2-photon microscopy in vivo, we demonstrated a short-onset vasoconstriction after intrathecal injection of either PDPs or BOXes. Using magnetic resonance imaging, we observed a long-term PDP-induced delay in cerebral perfusion. For all conditions, the arteriolar narrowing was dependent on functional big conductance potassium channels and was absent in big conductance potassium channels knockout mice.
Conclusions: For the first time, we have quantified significantly higher concentrations of PDP and BOX isomers in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with SAH compared to controls. The vasoconstrictive effect caused by PDPs in vitro and in vivo suggests a hitherto unrecognized pathway contributing to the pathogenesis of delayed ischemic deficit in patients with SAH.
Keywords: cerebral hemorrhage; cerebral vasospasm; heme degradation; ischemia; stroke; subarachnoid hemorrhage.