Normobaric Hyperoxia Extends Neuro- and Vaso-Protection of N-Acetylcysteine in Transient Focal Ischemia.
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N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a precursor of glutathione that reduces reperfusion-induced injury, has been shown protection when it was administered pre-ischemia. However, less is known about the effect when it was given post-ischemia and there is no positive result associated with anti-oxidant in clinical trials. This study investigated the neuro- and vaso-protection of post-ischemia NAC administration as well as combining NAC with normobaric hyperoxia (NBO). Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to NBO or normoxia during 2-h occlusion of the middle cerebral artery, followed by 48-h reperfusion. NAC or vehicle was intraperitoneally administered to rats immediately before reperfusion onset. NAC and NBO treatments produced 1.2 and 30 % reduction of infarction volume, respectively, and combination treatment showed greater reduction (59.8 %) as well as more decrease of hemispheric swelling volume. Of note, combination therapy showed improved neurological assessment and motor function which were sustained for 7 days after reperfusion. We also determined that the combination therapy showed greater inhibitory effects on tight junction protein degradation accompanied by Evan's blue extravasation, hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induction, and poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP)-1 activation in ischemic brain tissue. Our results showed that although post-ischemia NAC administration had limited protection, combination treatment of NAC plus NBO effectively prevented blood-brain barrier (BBB) damage and significantly improved the outcome of brain injury, providing new evidence to support the concept that "cocktail" treatment targeting different stages provides better neuro- and vaso-protection than current individual treatment that has all failed in their clinical trials.