We investigated the neuroprotective potential of MK-801 (dizocilpine), a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist, in the setting of three 5-min periods of global cerebral ischemia separated by 1-h intervals in halothane-anesthetized rats. Each ischemic insult was produced by bilateral carotid artery occlusions plus hypotension (50 mm Hg). Brain temperature was maintained at normothermic levels (36.5-37.0°C) throughout the experiment. MK-801 (3 mg/kg) (n = 6) or saline (n = 6) was injected intraperitoneally 45 min following the end of the first ischemic insult. Following 7-day survival, quantitative neuronal counts of perfusion-fixed brains revealed severe ischemic damage in hippocampal CA1 area, neocortex, ventrolateral thalamus, and striatum of untreated rats. By contrast, significant protection was observed in MK-801-treated rats. In area CA1 of the hippocampus, numbers of normal neurons were increased 11- to 14-fold by MK-801 treatment (p < 0.01). The ventrolateral thalamus of MK-801-treated rats showed almost complete histologic protection, and neocortical damage was reduced by 71% (p < 0.01). The degree of MK-801 protection of striatal neurons was less complete than that seen in other vulnerable structures, amounting to 63% for central striatum (p = 0.02, Mann-Whitney U test) and 48% in the dorsolateral striatum (NS). A repeated-measures analysis of variance demonstrated a highly significant overall protective effect of MK-801 treatment (F1.10 = 37.2, p = 0.0001). These findings indicate that excitotoxic mechanisms play a major role in neuronal damage produced by repeated ischemic insults and that striking cerebroprotection is conferred by MK-801 administered following the first insult in animals with cerebral normothermia. NMDA antagonists may prove useful in patients at risk of repeated episodes of cerebral ischemia.
- Multiple insults
- N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist
- Selective vulnerability
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism