A Mayo Clinic research team is focusing on a hormone previously identified in the venom of the green mamba snake for the role it may play in a dangerous blood vessel narrowing in stroke patients that can lead to a second stroke, reduced blood flow and brain damage.
Called “cerebral vasospasm,” this common complication of stroke occurs in approximately one-third of patients who experience a ruptured brain blood vessel. Its cause is not known. By discovering a possible role for this hormone, Mayo Clinic researchers are establishing the conceptual foundations for a new treatment for cerebral vasospasm. Their report occurs in the current issue of Neurosurgery.
In their pilot study, the Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that a specific pair of amino acids -- a “peptide” known as DNP -- was significantly elevated (29 percent) in aneurysm patients who went on to develop complications of cerebral vasospasm. Among the six patients in the study who were followed for seven days after their initial aneurysm ruptured, four patients showed evidence of cerebral vasospasm -- a much higher frequency than the 30 percent figure commonly cited. Of the four patients who had cerebral vasospasm, three -- 75 percent -- had increased DNP levels.
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