Intra-Arterial Verapamil Post-Thrombectomy Is Feasible, Safe, and Neuroprotective in Stroke


Large vessel ischemic stroke represents the most disabling subtype. While t-PA and endovascular thrombectomy can recanalize the occluded vessel, good clinical outcomes are not uniformly achieved. We propose that supplementing endovascular thrombectomy with superselective intra-arterial (IA) verapamil immediately following recanalization could be safe and effective. Verapamil, a calcium channel blocker, has been shown to be an effective IA adjunct in a pre-clinical mouse focal ischemia model. To demonstrate translational efficacy, mechanism, feasibility, and safety, we conducted a group of translational experiments. We performed in vivo IA dose–response evaluation in our animal stroke model with C57/Bl6 mice. We evaluated neuroprotective mechanism through in vitro primary cortical neuron (PCN) cultures. Finally, we performed a Phase I trial, SAVER-I, to evaluate feasibility and safety of administration in the human condition. IA verapamil has a likely plateau or inverted-U dose–response with a defined toxicity level in mice (LD50 16–17.5 mg/kg). Verapamil significantly prevented PCN death and deleterious ischemic effects. Finally, the SAVER-I clinical trial showed no evidence that IA verapamil increased the risk of intracranial hemorrhage or other adverse effect/procedural complication in human subjects. We conclude that superselective IA verapamil administration immediately following thrombectomy is safe and feasible, and has direct, dose–response-related benefits in ischemia.

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Published in Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, v. 37, issue 11.

© The Author(s) 2017

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Funding Information

This publication was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant UL1TR001998.