Effect of dimethyl sulfoxide on blood-brain barrier integrity following middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2006:96:258-62. doi: 10.1007/3-211-30714-1_55.


Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is widely used as a solvent for other drugs, i.e., for the protein kinase C activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and the V1a receptor-antagonist SR49059, to reduce brain edema. We studied the effect of DMSO on blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity following middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and the consequences on brain edema development. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to sham procedure or infusion of 1% DMSO, PMA (230 microg/kg in 1% DMSO), or SR49059 (1 mg/kg in 1% DMSO) followed by MCAO (each group n = 10). After a 2-hour period of ischemia and 2 hours reperfusion, the animals were sacrificed for assessment of brain water content, sodium, and potassium concentration. BBB integrity was assessed by Evans blue extravasation. Statistical analysis was performed by ANOVA followed by a Tukey post hoc test. Low-dose DMSO treatment following MCAO significantly opened the BBB on the ischemic side (p < 0.037). PMA and SR49059 did not have any additional effect on BBB compromise compared to DMSO (p = 1.000, p < 0.957, respectively). We conclude that DMSO as a vehicle for drug administration may increase the drug concentration into the extracellular space, but since BBB permeability is increased, it may also provide an avenue for development of vasogenic edema.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiopathology*
  • Brain Edema / etiology
  • Brain Edema / physiopathology*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / complications
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide