In vivo studies showed that tissue-plasminogen activator (t-PA) may aggravate neuronal injury after focal cerebral ischemia. We hypothesized that t-PA impairs survival-promoting cell signaling in the ischemic brain, which may be reversed by a neuroprotectant, i.e. melatonin. We examined the effects of t-PA (10 mg/kg, i.V.), administered alone or in combination with melatonin (4 mg/kg, i.p.), on ischemic injury, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression as well as Akt, Bcl-XL and caspase-3 signaling following 90 min of intraluminal middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion in mice. t-PA, delivered immediately after reperfusion onset, increased infarct volume at 24 hr after MCA occlusion, in accordance with previous findings. Melatonin reduced infarct size when administered alone and reversed the t-PA-induced brain injury. Immunohistochemical studies showed that t-PA treatment was associated with an accumulation of iNOS positive cells in ischemic brain areas, which was abolished after co-delivery of melatonin. Western blots revealed that t-PA decreased phosphorylated Akt levels, but did not influence Bcl-XL expression and caspase-3 activity in ischemic brain lysates. Co-treatment with melatonin restored phosphorylated Akt levels, increased Bcl-XL expression and reduced caspase-3 activity. We provide evidence that t-PA-induced brain injury is accompanied by an activation of iNOS and inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/Akt. That melatonin reversed these signaling changes and the t-PA-induced brain injury makes this indole attractive as an add-on treatment with thrombolytics.
- Middle cerebral artery occlusion
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