Serum von Willebrand factor, matrix metalloproteinase-9, and vascular endothelial growth factor levels predict the onset of cerebral vasospasm after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

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OBJECTIVE: Endothelial damage and intimal proliferation occur in vasospastic cerebral arteries after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). In the peripheral vasculature, endothelial damage increases intimal matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels, causing neointimal proliferation. We hypothesized that serum von Willebrand factor (vWF) (a marker of endothelial cell death), MMP-9, and VEGF levels could serve as prognostic markers in predicting the occurrence of cerebral vasospasm. METHODS: Venous serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels were prospectively measured daily, for 12 days or until the onset of vasospasm, for 45 consecutive patients admitted with SAH (n = 38) or admitted for elective aneurysm clipping (control subjects, n = 7). The development of transcranial Doppler flow velocities of more than 180 cm/s and/or new focal neurological deficits with angiographically confirmed vasospasm was considered the onset of vasospasm. To establish whether these markers were specific for vasospasm versus ischemia, blood samples were obtained from a concurrent group of 42 patients within 24 hours after stroke onset unrelated to SAH. RESULTS: Fifty-seven percent of patients (22 of 38 patients) developed vasospasm, 4 to 11 days after SAH (median, 7 d). Mean peak serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels were increased in the SAH prevasospasm cohort, compared with the SAH nonvasospasm cohort (vWF, 5526 ± 929 versus 4934 ± 599 ng/ml, P = 0.01; MMP-9, 705 ± 338 versus 438 ± 154 ng/ml, P = 0.006; VEGF, 0.12 ± 0.06 versus 0.06 ± 0.06 ng/ml, P = 0.023). Mean peak vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels for the focal ischemia cohort (vWF, 4645 ± 875 ng/ml, P = 0.01; MMP-9, 250 ± 308 ng/ml, P = 0.001; VEGF, 0.03 ± 0.04 ng/ml, P = 0.001) were markedly lower in comparison with the SAH prevasospasm cohort and were unchanged in comparison with the control cohort. vWF levels of more than 5500 ng/ml, VEGF levels of more than 0.12 ng/ml, and ]MMP levels of more than 700 ng/ml each independently increased the odds of subsequent vasospasm (18-, 20-, and 25-fold, respectively). CONCLUSION: The development of cerebral vasospasm after SAH was preceded by increases in serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels. Increased serum vWF, MMP-9, and VEGF levels could accurately predict the onset of cerebral vasospasm after SAH. These factors were not elevated by SAH alone or in a separate cohort of patients with ischemic stroke, suggesting that these factors might play a role in the pathogenesis of human cerebral vasospasm.

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