Role of inflammation (leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions) in vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage

Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Gustavo Pradilla, Judy Huang, Rafael J. Tamargo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Background: Delayed vasospasm is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality after aneurismal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH). This phenomenon was first described more than 50 years ago, but only recently has the role of inflammation in this condition become better understood. Methods: The literature was reviewed for studies on delayed vasospasm and inflammation. Results: There is increasing evidence that inflammation and, more specifically, leukocyteendothelial cell interactions play a critical role in the pathogenesis of vasospasm after aSAH, as well as in other conditions including meningitis and traumatic brain injury. Although earlier clinical observations and indirect experimental evidence suggested an association between inflammation and chronic vasospasm, recently direct molecular evidence demonstrates the central role of leukocyteendothelial cell interactions in the development of chronic vasospasm. This evidence shows in both clinical and experimental studies that cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) are up-regulated in the perivasospasm period. Moreover, the use of monoclonal antibodies against these CAMs, as well as drugs that decrease the expression of CAMs, decreases vasospasm in experimental studies. It also appears that certain individuals are genetically predisposed to a severe inflammatory response after aSAH based on their haptoglobin genotype, which in turn predisposes them to develop clinically symptomatic vasospasm. Conclusion: Based on this evidence, leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions appear to be the root cause of chronic vasospasm. This hypothesis predicts many surprising features of vasospasm and explains apparently unrelated phenomena observed in aSAH patients. Therapies aimed at preventing inflammation may prevent and/or reverse arterial narrowing in patients with aSAH and result in improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-41
Number of pages20
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Endothelial cells
  • Haptoglobin
  • Hemoglobin
  • Inflammation
  • Leukocytes
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Vasospasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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