We investigated the efficacy of heparin on cerebral ischemic damage in a rabbit model of middle cerebral artery (MCA) photothrombosis and in the same model, cerebral hemorrhage induced by heparin as its side effect was also investigated. Using a photothrombosis model in rabbits, 38 animals were divided into four groups, heparin low-dose I and II, heparin high-dose and vehicle. In heparin low-dose I (n 10) or II (n 7), heparin was administered for 23.5 or 22 h, respectively, starting 30 or 120 min after the start of photo-irradiation to induce thrombosis. In high-dose (n 7), heparin was administered 30 min after the start of photo-irradiation for 23.5 h. In the vehicle treated group (control), 14 animals were infused continuously with saline for 23.5 h. Heparin at low and high doses prolonged Activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) by about 3 and 10 times compared with control group. The results show that cerebral hemorrhage was present in all animals, gross hemorrhage was observed in one animal each of the heparin low-dose I and high-dose groups, and in three animals of the heparin low-dose II group, while no gross hemorrhage was observed in control group. In heparin low-dose I, the size of cerebral infarction was significantly (P 0.01) reduced and neurological deficits were significantly (P 0.01) improved. In contrast, in heparin high-dose, the infarct size significantly increased, especially in the cortex (P 0.0001), and neurological deficits were significantly (P 0.01) worsened. In heparin low-dose II, the size of cerebral hemorrhage significantly (P 0.001) increased compared with the control group. In conclusion, using a photothrombotic model in the rabbit MCA, we have investigated the antithrombotic benefits and hemorrhagic risks associated with heparin. Of unique feature of our model is the fact that in a single animal model, we could evaluate doses of heparin which reduce cerebral infarction and doses which can promote cerebral hemorrhage. This model can be extended to determine both benefits and risks of antithrombotic agents.
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