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Sildenafil citrate has been shown to enhance neurogenesis, angiogenesis, synaptogenesis, and neurological outcome by augmentation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels in animal models of ischemic stroke. Whether sildenafil citrate may be helpful for recovery in human stroke is unknown at this time.
A 41-year-old woman with locked-in syndrome due to pontine infarction began receiving 150 mg of oral sildenafil citrate daily on a compassionate use basis in August 2003 and continues treatment at this time. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) was performed at 12 and 17 months after stroke.
No serious adverse events have occurred. Significant milestone recoveries including standing, use of both arms, talking, and full return of swallowing have occurred, particularly after nine months of treatment. The MEG showed a significantly increased amplitude in the somatosensory cortex.
Daily use of high dose sildenafil citrate appears to be safe in this patient with stroke resulting in locked-in syndrome. Further studies will be required to establish safety and efficacy.
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