Effects of progesterone administration on infarct volume and functional deficits following permanent focal cerebral ischemia in rats

Brain Res. 2009 Feb 27;1257:94-101. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.12.048. Epub 2008 Dec 29.


Recent experimental evidence indicates that progesterone (PROG) protects against various models of brain injury, including ischemic stroke. Most human studies of pharmacologic treatments for acute cerebral stroke have failed despite initial success in animal models. To simulate better the typical human stroke without reperfusion, the present study was conducted to examine the efficacy of PROG on infarct volume and functional outcome in a permanent model of stroke, using direct cauterization of the middle cerebral artery (MCA). Twenty-four male adult Sprague-Dawley rats underwent pMCAO by electro-coagulation and sham operation. After induction of permanent MCA occlusion (pMCAO), the rats received an initial intraperitoneal injection of PROG (8 mg/kg) or vehicle at 1 h post-occlusion followed by subcutaneous injections at 6, 24 and 48 h. Functional deficits were tested on the rotarod and grip-strength meter at 24, 48 and 72 h after pMCAO. The rats were killed 72 h after surgery and isolated brain was sectioned into coronal slices and stained with 2, 3, 5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC). PROG-treated rats showed a substantial reduction (54.05%) in the volume of the infarct (% contralateral hemisphere) compared to vehicle controls. In addition there was a significant improvement in ability to remain on an accelerating rotarod and increased grip strength observed in the pMCAO rats treated with PROG compared to vehicle. Taken together, these data indicate that PROG is beneficial in one of the best-characterized models of stroke, and may warrant further testing in future clinical trials for human stroke.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Hand Strength
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / drug therapy*
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Progesterone / administration & dosage
  • Progesterone / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects
  • Rotarod Performance Test
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Tetrazolium Salts


  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Progesterone
  • triphenyltetrazolium