Background: The benefit of intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) in acute stroke is linked to clot lysis and artery recanalization. Argatroban is a direct thrombin inhibitor that safely augments the benefit of rtPA in animal stroke models. There are no human data on this combination. Design: We report the first phase of the Argatroban tPA Stroke Study, an ongoing prospective, open-label, dose-escalation, safety and activity study of argatroban and rtPA in patients with ischemic stroke. The primary outcome was incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage; secondary outcome, complete recanalization at 2 hours. After standard-dose intravenous rtPA administration, a 100-μg/kg bolus of argatroban followed by infusion of 1 μg/kg per minute for 48 hours was adjusted to a target partial thromboplastin time of 1.75 times that of the control group. Results: Fifteen patients (including 10 men) were enrolled, with a mean±SD age of 61±13 years. All patients had middle cerebral artery occlusions. Baseline median National Institute of Health Stroke Scale score was 14 (range, 4-25). The mean±SD time from symptom onset to argatroban bolus administration was 172±53 minutes. Symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage occurred in 2 patients, including 1 with parenchymal hemorrhage type 2. Asymptomatic bleeding occurred in 1 patient and there was 1 death. Recanalization was complete in 6 patients and partial in another 4, and reocclusion occurred in 3 within 2 hours of rtPA bolus administration. Conclusion: The safety of low-dose argatroban combined with intravenous rtPA may be within acceptable limits, and its efficacy for producing fast and complete recanalization is promising, but a larger cohort of patients is required to confirm these preliminary observations. Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00268762.
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