Thrombolytic therapy with streptokinase in acute ischemic stroke

N Engl J Med. 1996 Jul 18;335(3):145-50. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199607183350301.


Background: In patients with acute ischemic stroke, early treatment with thrombolytic agents is thought to permit reperfusion of ischemic neurons and to promote recovery of function. The Multicenter Acute Stroke Trial-Europe (MAST-E) was designed to assess the efficacy and safety of streptokinase in patients with acute ischemic stroke.

Methods: Patients with moderate-to-severe ischemia in the territory of the middle cerebral artery were randomly assigned to receive streptokinase (1.5 million units over a period of one hour) or placebo within six hours after the onset of stroke. The primary efficacy outcome was a binary criterion combining mortality and severe disability at six months, with severe disability defined as a score of 3 or higher on the Rankin scale. The primary safety outcomes were mortality at 10 days and cerebral hemorrhage.

Results: All randomized patients (156 in the streptokinase group and 154 in the placebo group) were evaluated at six months. The incidence of the primary efficacy outcome was similar in the two groups (124 patients in the streptokinase group and 126 in the placebo group died or had a Rankin score > or = 3). However, the mortality rate at 10 days was significantly higher in the streptokinase group than in the placebo group (34.0 percent vs. 18.2 percent, P = 0.002). The higher rate in the streptokinase group was mainly due to the hemorrhagic transformation of ischemic cerebral infarcts. At six months, more deaths had occurred in the streptokinase group than in the placebo group (73 vs. 59, P = 0.06).

Conclusions: In patients with acute ischemic stroke, treatment with streptokinase resulted in an increase in mortality. The routine use of streptokinase cannot be recommended in acute ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / mortality
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / chemically induced*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Cerebral Infarction / drug therapy
  • Cerebral Infarction / mortality
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Streptokinase / adverse effects
  • Streptokinase / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Streptokinase