To determine if CSF and plasma levels of soluble vascular endothelial (sVE)-cadherin are associated with functional outcome after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and to investigate sVE-cadherin effects on microglia.
Serial CSF and plasma were collected from prospectively enrolled patients with nontraumatic SAH from a ruptured aneurysm in the anterior circulation and who required an external ventricular drain for clinical indications. Patients with normal-pressure hydrocephalus without SAH served as controls. For prospective assessment of long-term outcomes at 3 and 6 months after SAH, modified Rankin Scale scores (mRS) were obtained and dichotomized into good (mRS ≤ 2) vs poor (mRS > 2) outcome groups. For SAH severity, Hunt and Hess grade was assessed. Association of CSF sVE-cadherin levels with long-term outcomes, HH grade, and CSF tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α levels were evaluated. sVE-cadherin effects on microglia were also studied.
sVE-cadherin levels in CSF, but not in plasma, were higher in patients with SAH and were associated with higher clinical severity and higher CSF TNF-α levels. Patients with SAH with higher CSF sVE-cadherin levels over time were more likely to develop worse functional outcome at 3 months after SAH. Incubation of cultured microglia with sVE-cadherin resulted in increased inducible nitric oxide synthase, interleukin-1β, reactive oxygen species, cell soma size, and metabolic activity, consistent with microglia activation. Microinjection of sVE-cadherin fragments into mouse brain results in an increased number of microglia surrounding the injection site, compared to injection of denatured vascular endothelial–cadherin fragments.
These results support the existence of a novel pathway by which sVE-cadherin, released from injured endothelium after SAH, can shift microglia into a more proinflammatory phenotype and contribute to neuroinflammation and poor outcome in SAH.