Patients treated with the hormone relaxin after a stroke showed marked improvements in function and cognition, suggesting a new therapeutic approach in reducing disability resulting from neurovascular ischemic disease.
Psychoneurological disabilities occur frequently in patients who survive a stroke, researchers wrote in a cohort study conducted in Italy. Relaxin is thought to have protective properties on experimental ischemia in the heart and brain and has the potential to improve brain function, they said.
Paolo Milia, MD, of the department of neurology at Prosperius Institute in Umbertide, Italy, and colleagues randomly assigned 36 post-stroke patients to two groups. Patients aged 64 to 79 years (n=18; 50% men) underwent rehabilitation and received oral porcine relaxin (Vitalaxin Plus, Sky BioHealth) at 40 mg per day (group RLX+R). The remainder of patients (n=18; 50% men), aged 64 to 78 years, received rehabilitation only (group R).
Researchers analyzed all of the patients at admission, 20 days and 40 days, and they studied the groups using the Functional Independence Measure for daily activity, the Trail Making Test for cognitive function and modified Rankin Scale for global function. Additional tests were conducted to compare categorical and continuous variables.
Patients in the RLX+R group displayed improved general conditions and resistance to afford rehabilitation exercises during the trial, researchers wrote. Although Functional Independence Measure scores showed no significant differences between the groups after 20 days, patients in the RLX+R group presented improved recovery after 40 days (P<.001).
Similarly, cognitive function showed signs of improvement in the RLX+R group after 20 days (P<.002) and continued to improve at 40 days (P<.001). Researchers also found that patients in the RLX+R group at 20 days and 40 days experienced improved global function (both P<.001).
Based on these data, researchers concluded that relaxin was safe and efficacious, with significant improvement to psychoneurological recovery of patients who have previously experienced a stroke.
Relaxin could be used as a new therapeutic and preventive drug in reducing incidence and disability as it relates to neurovascular ischemic disease, they wrote.
For more information:
Milia P. Abstract #MON-155. Presented at: the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting & Expo; June 23-26, 2012; Houston.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.