Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a potent neurotrophic agent that promotes neuronal survival and outgrowth. Previous studies have shown that bFGF, administered intraventricularly or intravenously before or within hours after ischemia, reduces infarct size and neurological deficits in models of focal cerebral ischemia in rats. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that bFGF, administered at later time points after ischemia, might improve behavioral recovery without affecting infarct size. Mature Sprague-Dawley rats received bFGF (1 μg/injection) or vehicle by biweekly intracisternal injection for 4 weeks, starting at 1 day following permanent proximal middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion. Animals were examined every other day using four different behavioral tests to assess sensorimotor and reflex function. At 4 weeks after ischemia, there was no difference in infarct volume between bFGF- and vehicle-treated animals. There was, however, an enhancement in the rate and degree of behavioral recovery among bFGF- treated animals, as measured by all four tests. There were no apparent side effects of bFGF treatment, except that bFGF-treated animals tended to recover body weight more slowly than did vehicle-treated animals following stroke. The mechanisms of enhancement of behavioral recovery by bFGF require further study, but may include protection against retrograde neuronal death and/or stimulation of neuronal sprouting.
- Basic fibroblast growth factor
- Cerebral infarction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism