Dual Antiplatelet Therapy Increases Hemorrhagic Transformation Following Thrombolytic Treatment in Experimental Stroke

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Background and Purpose—Dual antiplatelet treatment poses a risk for increased hemorrhagic transformation (HT) following intravenous thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy. The aim of this study was to implement a model of experimental stroke with tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA)-associated HT in mice on dual antiplatelet treatment to enable mechanistic studies and also to allow for an initial assessment of therapeutic approaches to limit HT.Methods—Male C57BL6 mice were fed with Aspirin and Clopidogrel via drinking water for 3 days. Subsequently, mice were subjected to 2-hour transient middle cerebral artery occlusion, and tPA was infused when indicated. HT was quantified by measuring hemorrhaged areas in brain sections with ImageJ. TTC staining was used to determine infarct size. Platelet function was tested in vitro using flow cytometry and in vivo with standard tail bleeding tests.Results—Both flow cytometry and tail bleeding volumes indicated significantly reduced platelet function following Aspirin and Clopidogrel treatment. While tPA administered 2 hours after onset of middle cerebral artery occlusion did not cause bleeding in control mice (0.51±0.13 mm2), HT significantly increased by 18.9±5.4 mm2 (P=0.0045) in Aspirin and Clopidogrel mice treated with tPA. HT in aspirin and clopidogrel mice not treated with tPA was nonsignificantly elevated by 8.0±4.6 mm2 (P=0.3784) compared with controls. Infarct sizes did not differ between groups. The HT persisted when the tPA dosage was reduced.Conclusions—We successfully established a translational stroke model of tPA treatment under dual antiplatelet treatment. The impaired platelet function led to an increased risk for HT in tPA-treated mice. Reducing the dosage of tPA did not prevent this hemorrhagic complication.

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