Therapeutic potential of platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists in the management of ischemic stroke

Author(s): Lapchak PA, Araujo DM


The only drug approved by the US FDA for use in patients with acute ischemic stroke is the thrombolytic, alteplase. Whereas alteplase rapidly restores blood flow, the drug has to be administered within 6 hours after symptom onset and is associated with an increased incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Moreover, transient and permanent re-occlusions associated with increased mortality continue to occur after thrombolysis with alteplase. Platelets are believed to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis and the binding of the platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor to fibrinogen is the final common pathway leading to platelet aggregation and thrombus formation. Antiplatelet agents such as platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists have been studied in numerous multicenter, randomized clinical trials in patients with acute coronary symptoms (ACS). The intravenous GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists abciximab, eptifibatide and tirofiban are approved by the FDA for use in patients with ACS, and intravenous tirofiban is also approved for use during coronary intervention. Oral GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists such as lotrafiban, xemilofiban, sibrafiban and orbofiban have failed to provide myocardial protection in patients with ACS. Compared with ACS, few trials have evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists in patients with cerebrovascular syndromes. Agents such as SM-20302, TP201, ME3277, murine 7E3 F(ab')(2 )and SDZ-GPI 562 have been reported to preserve microvascular patency in different animal models of acute ischemic stroke and they may have neuroprotective properties. Platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists may be suitable as a single therapeutic or as an adjunct therapeutic to thrombolysis with alteplase for the treatment of stroke. Platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists may enhance the efficacy of thrombolytics and reduce potentially fatal adverse effects such as ICH. Preliminary results from the Abciximab in Emergent Stroke Treatment Trial (AbESTT) indicate that abciximab, administered as a bolus dose 0.25 mg/kg followed by 12-hour infusion, was associated with significant improvement in clinical rating scores and no significant increase in bleeding episodes in patients with acute stroke. The tolerability of argatroban in patients with acute stroke is currently being assessed in the multicenter Argatroban in Ischemic Stroke (ARGIS-1) trial.

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