Systemic administration of the iron chelator deferiprone attenuates subarachnoid hemorrhage-induced cerebral vasospasm in the rabbit

Neurosurgery. 1997 Dec;41(6):1385-91; discussion 1391-2. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199712000-00028.


Objective: Iron catalyzed generation of injurious free radicals has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The present study assessed the effects of the iron chelator deferiprone on cerebral vasospasm in an in vivo rabbit model of SAH.

Methods: Twenty-four rabbits were assigned to three groups as follows: SAH plus placebo (n = 8), SAH plus deferiprone (n = 8), or control plus placebo (n = 8). Deferiprone was administered to an additional group of three rabbits that were not subjected to SAH. Drug administration was initiated 8 hours after SAH was induced and was repeated at 8-hour intervals. The animals were killed using perfusion-fixation 48 hours after SAH. Cross-sectional areas of basilar artery histological sections were measured by an investigator blinded to the treatment groups.

Results: In placebo-treated animals, the average luminal cross-sectional area of the basilar artery was reduced by 54% after SAH compared to controls (i.e., from 0.272 to 0.125 mm2). The vasospastic response after SAH was attenuated significantly in animals treated with deferiprone (0.208 mm2, representing a 24% reduction).

Conclusion: Previous experimental studies suggested that iron chelation can be effective in attenuating cerebral vasospasm after SAH. Deferiprone is a recently developed iron chelator that has been extensively evaluated for the treatment of patients requiring chronic blood transfusions. The present study demonstrates that deferiprone is effective in attenuating experimental cerebral vasospasm. Because of its stability, lipophilicity, and ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, deferiprone represents an attractive candidate for the treatment of cerebral vasospasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basilar Artery / drug effects
  • Basilar Artery / pathology
  • Deferiprone
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / drug therapy*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / pathology
  • Male
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use*
  • Rabbits
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / complications*


  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Pyridones
  • Deferiprone