Alpha-lipoic acid provides neuroprotection from ischemia-reperfusion injury of peripheral nerve

J Neurol Sci. 1999 Feb 1;163(1):11-6. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(99)00017-9.


Background: Reperfusion aggravates nerve ischemic fiber degeneration, likely by the generation of reduced oxygen species. We therefore evaluated if racemic alpha-lipoic acid (LA), a potent antioxidant, will protect peripheral nerve from reperfusion injury, using our established model of ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Methods: We used male SD rats, 300+/-5 g. Ischemia was produced by the ligature of each of the supplying arteries to the sciatic-tibial nerve of the right hind-limb for predetermined periods of time (either 3 or 5 h), followed by the release of the ligatures, resulting in reperfusion. LA was given intraperitoneally daily for 3 days for both pre- and post-surgery. Animals received either LA, 100 mg/kg/day, or the same volume of saline intraperitoneally. Clinical behavioral score and electrophysiology of motor and sensory nerves were obtained at 1 week after ischemia-reperfusion. After electrophysiological examination, the sciatic-tibial nerve was fixed in situ and embedded in epon. We evaluated for ischemic fiber degeneration (IFD) and edema, as we described previously.

Results: Distal sensory conduction (amplitude of sensory action potential and sensory conduction velocity (SCV) of digital nerve) was significantly improved in the 3-h ischemia group, treated with LA (P<0.05). LA also improved IFD of the mid tibial nerve (P=0.0522). LA failed to show favorable effects if the duration of ischemia was longer (5-h ischemia).

Conclusion: These results suggest that alpha-lipoic acid is efficacious for moderate ischemia-reperfusion, especially on distal sensory nerves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Gait
  • Hindlimb / blood supply
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Pain
  • Posture
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Sciatic Nerve / blood supply*
  • Sciatic Nerve / pathology
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Thioctic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Thioctic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Tibial Nerve / blood supply*
  • Tibial Nerve / pathology
  • Tibial Nerve / physiopathology


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Thioctic Acid