Purpose: To highlight recent advances in neuroprotection in acute stroke.Data Sources: A MEDLINE search was conducted from January 1985 to November 2000. Key words included neuroprotection, cerebrovascular, subarachnoid haemorrhage, perioperative stroke, hypothermia and apopotosis. All articles in English were considered for review. Additional articles were identified from the references of the retrieved articles and cross-referencing selected articles. Data Extraction: All clinical studies and review articles and abstracts were reviewed. Data Synthesis: The neuronal cells of the central nervous system are susceptible to various forms of insult such as ischaemia and haemorrhage. Each step along the ischaemic cascade is a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Neuroprotective agents are designed to minimise cellular injury and salvage brain tissue. In cerebral ischaemia, only thrombolysis had been shown to improve clinical outcome. Neuroprotective therapy has definite benefits in animals but not in humans. It may potentially extend the time window for thrombolysis. In aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage, the only agent with proven efficacy is nimodipine. Research is ongoing in the development of new drugs. Currently several phase III trials are in progress. Conclusion: There is substantial optimism in the development of neuroprotective therapy to improve outcome in stroke patients.
The neuronal cells of the central nervous system are especially susceptible to various forms of insult such as trauma and ischaemia. Once the ischaemic cascade is set into motion by the initiating injury, the resultant damage is traditionally considered to be unavoidable, untreatable and permanent.
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