Lutein enhances survival and reduces neuronal damage in a mouse model of ischemic stroke

Neurobiol Dis. 2012 Jan;45(1):624-32. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2011.10.008. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Introduction: Stroke is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Protective agents that could diminish the injuries induced by cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) are crucial to alleviate the detrimental outcome of stroke. The aim of this study is to investigate the protective roles of lutein in cerebral I/R injury.

Methods: Two-hour cerebral ischemia was induced by unilateral middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) in mice. Either lutein (0.2 mg/kg) or vehicle was given to mice intraperitoneally 1h after MCAo and 1h after reperfusion. Neurological deficits were evaluated at 22 h after reperfusion while survival rate was assessed daily until 7 days after reperfusion. Brains were cut into 2mm-thick coronal slices and stained with 2% 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride to determine the infarct size after MCAo. Paraffin-embedded brain sections were prepared for TUNEL assay and immunohistochemistry. Protein lysate was collected for Western blotting experiments.

Results: Higher survival rate, better neurological scores, smaller infarct area and smaller infarct volume were noted in the lutein-treated group. Immunohistochemistry data showed a decrease of immunoreactivity of nitrotyrosine, poly(ADP-ribose) and NFκB in the lutein-treated brains. Western blotting data showed decreased levels of Cox-2, pERK, and pIκB, but increased levels of Bcl-2, heat shock protein 70 and pAkt in the lutein-treated brains.

Conclusions: Post-treatment of lutein protected the brain from I/R injury, probably by its anti-apoptotic, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. These suggest that lutein could diminish the deleterious outcomes of cerebral I/R and may be used as a potential treatment for stroke patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Lutein / pharmacology
  • Lutein / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / pathology


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Lutein