Within the past few years, a growing body of evidence has accumulated indicating that exogenously administered neurotrophic growth factors may limit the extent of acute ischemic neural injury and enhance functional neurorecovery following stroke. One of the most widely studied growth factor in this regard is basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). In preclinical studies, bFGF administered intravenously within hours after the onset of ischemia reduces infarct size, presumably due to direct protection of cells at the borders (penumbra) of cerebral infarction. On the other hand, if bFGF is administered intracisternally starting at one day after ischemia, infarct size is not reduced, but recovery of sensorimotor function of the impaired limbs is increased, presumably due to enhancement of new neuronal sprouting and synapse formation in the intact uninjured brain. Clinical trials of the intravenous administration of bFGF as a cytoprotective agent in acute stroke are in progress. Trials of the delayed administration of bFGF as a recovery-promoting agent in subacute stroke are anticipated.
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