Although the huge economic and social impact and the predicted incidence increase, neuroprotection for ischemic stroke remains as a therapeutically empty niche. In the present study, we investigated the rationale of the C-Phycocyanin (C-PC) treatment on global cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in gerbils. We demonstrated that C-PC given either prophylactically or therapeutically was able to significantly reduce the infarct volume as assessed by triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining and the neurological deficit score 24h post-stroke. In addition, C-PC exhibited a protective effect against hippocampus neuronal cell death, and significantly improved the functional outcome (locomotor behavior) and gerbil survival after 7 days of reperfusion. Malondialdehyde (MDA), peroxidation potential (PP) and ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) were assayed in serum and brain homogenates to evaluate the redox status 24h post-stroke. The treatment with C-PC prevented the lipid peroxidation and the increase of FRAP in both tissue compartments. These results suggest that the protective effects of C-PC are most likely due to its antioxidant activity, although its anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory properties reported elsewhere could also contribute to neuroprotection. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the neuroprotective effect of C-PC in an experimental model of global cerebral I/R damage, and strongly indicates that C-PC may represent a potential preventive and acute disease modifying pharmacological agent for stroke therapy.
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