Purpose: To compare the effect of cilostazol plus aspirin versus aspirin alone on the progression of intracranial arterial stenosis (IAS), and to compare ischemic and hemorrhagic events in patients with symptomatic IAS, an investigator-driven, nationwide multicenter cooperative randomized controlled trial (CATHARSIS; ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier 00333164) was conducted. Methods: 165 noncardioembolic ischemic stroke patients with >50% stenosis in the responsible intracranial artery after 2 weeks to 6 months from the onset were randomly allocated to receive either cilostazol 200 mg/day plus aspirin 100 mg/day (n = 83, CA group) or aspirin 100 mg/day alone (n = 82, A group). The primary endpoint was the progression of IAS on magnetic resonance angiography at 2 years after randomization. Secondary endpoints were any vascular events, any cause of death, serious adverse events, new silent brain infarcts, and worsening of the modified Rankin Scale score. Results: Progression of IAS was observed in 9.6% of the CA group patients and in 5.6% of the A group patients, with no significant intergroup difference (p = 0.53). The incidence of the secondary endpoints tended to be lower in the CA group compared with the A group, although the differences were not significant. By using exploratory logistic regression analysis adjusted for patient background characteristics, it was shown that the risk for certain combinations of secondary endpoints was lower in the CA group than in the A group [all vascular events and silent brain infarcts: odds ratio (OR) = 0.37, p = 0.04; stroke and silent brain infarcts: OR = 0.34, p = 0.04; all vascular events, worsening of modified Rankin Scale scores and silent brain infracts: OR = 0.41, p = 0.03]. Major hemorrhage was observed in 4 patients of the CA group and in 3 of the A group. Conclusion: Progression of IAS during the 2-year observation period appears to be less frequent than previously reported in stroke patients on antiplatelet agents after the acute phase, which could be due to the adequate control of risk factors, and because patients with stroke within 2 weeks after the onset were excluded. The results of the CATHARSIS trial suggest a potential utility of pharmacotherapies with cilostazol plus aspirin as well as of strict control of risk factors for the management of symptomatic IAS. Larger studies with higher statistical power are required to obtain conclusive results.
- Intracranial arterial stenosis
- Stroke prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine