Possible neuroprotective effects of lecithin and alpha-tocopherol alone or in combination against ischemia/reperfusion insult in rat brain

J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2004;18(5):273-8. doi: 10.1002/jbt.20037.


A close correlation exists between ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-induced insult and the release of free radicals. Lecithin is a polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine that corresponds to the phosphatidylcholine molecule. Phosphatidylcholines are high-energy functional and structural elements of all biologic membranes. alpha-Tocopherol is the major lipid-soluble chain-breaking antioxidant in the body tissues and effectively protects against neuronal damage. Therefore, we studied the effect of lecithin (300 mg/kg, p.o., 14 days) and alpha-tocopherol (200 mg/kg, p.o., 14 days), alone or in combination, on the brain redox state during I/R. Adult male Wistar rats were subjected to global ischemia by the occlusion of the two carotid arteries 24 h after the last dose of drug administration. Reperfusion was carried out 1 h after induction of ischemia and lasted for another hour. Brain lipid peroxides (MDA) and glutathione (GSH) contents, as well as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities were assessed. The results showed that I/R elevated brain lipid peroxides content which was accompanied by a reduction in both antioxidant enzyme activities, however, brain GSH level remained unaltered. Lecithin, alpha-tocopherol and their combination restored MDA content, as well as CAT activity with a slight tendency to normalize SOD activity. We conclude that lecithin has a possible neuroprotective effect partly through its antioxidant action which is comparable to that of alpha-tocopherol.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reference Values
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Soybeans
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • alpha-Tocopherol / therapeutic use*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Catalase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • alpha-Tocopherol