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Cerebral Microbleeds and Asundexian in Non-cardioembolic Ischemic Stroke: Secondary Analyses of the PACIFIC-STROKE Randomized Trial

Int J Stroke. 2023 Nov 10:17474930231216339. doi: 10.1177/17474930231216339. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Cerebral microbleeds are MRI markers of hemorrhage-prone cerebral small-vessel disease that predict future risk of ischemic stroke and intracranial hemorrhage (ICrH). There exists concerns about the net benefit of antithrombotic therapy in patients with microbleeds. We aimed to investigate the effects of an oral factor-XIa inhibitor (asundexian), that is hypothesized to inhibit thrombosis without compromising hemostasis, on the development of new microbleeds over time and interactions between microbleeds and asundexian treatment on clinical outcomes. We additionally assessed associations between baseline microbleeds and the risks of clinical and neuroimaging outcomes in patients with non-cardioembomic ischemic stroke.

METHODS: This is a subgroup analysis of the PACIFIC-STROKE, international, multi-center Phase 2b double-blind, randomized clinical trial. PACIFIC-STROKE enrolled patients aged ≥45 years with mild-to-moderate non-cardioembolic ischemic stroke who presented within 48 hours of symptom onset for whom antiplatelet therapy was intended. Microbleeds were centrally adjudicated, and participants with an interpretable T2*-weighted sequence at their baseline MRI were included in this analysis. Patients were randomized to asundexian (10/20/50mg daily) vs. placebo plus standard antiplatelet treatment. Regression models were used to estimate the effects of i) all pooled asundexian doses and ii) asundexian 50 mg daily on new microbleed formation on 26-week MRIs. Cox proportional hazards or regression models were additionally used to estimate interactions between treatment assignment and microbleeds for ischemic stroke/TIA (primary outcome), as well as ICrH, all-cause mortality, hemorrhagic transformation (HT), and new microbleeds (secondary outcomes).

RESULTS: Of 1746 participants (mean age, 67.0±10.0; 34% female) with baseline MRIs, 604 (35%) had microbleeds. During a median follow-up of 10.6 months, 7.0% (n=122) had ischemic stroke/TIA, 0.5% (n=8) ICrH, and 2.1% (n=37) died. New microbleeds developed in 10.3% (n=155) of participants with adequate up-MRIs and HT in 31.4% (n=345). In the total sample of patients with adequate baseline and 26-week follow-up MRIs (n=1507, ), new microbleeds occurred in 10.2% of patients assigned to any asundexian dose and 10.5% of patients assigned to placebo (OR 0.96, 95%CI 0.66-1.41). There were no interactions between microbleeds and treatment assignment for any of the outcomes (p for interaction>0.05). The rates of new microbleeds, HT and ICrH were numerically less in patients with microbleeds assigned to asundexian relative to placebo. The presence of microbleeds was associated with a higher risk of HT (aOR, 1.6; 95%CI, 1.2-2.1) and new microbleeds (aOR, 4.4; 95%CI, 3.0-6.3).

CONCLUSIONS: Factor XIa inhibition with asundexian appears safe in patients with non-cardioembolic ischemic stroke and hemorrhage-prone cerebral small-vessel disease marked by microbleeds on MRI. These preliminary findings will be confirmed in the ongoing OCEANIC-STROKE randomized trial.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT04304508.

PMID:37950392 | DOI:10.1177/17474930231216339

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