Aims: A growing number of studies demonstrate that valproic acid (VPA), an anti-convulsant and mood-stabilizing drug, is neuroprotective against various insults. This study investigated whether treatment of ischemic stroke with VPA ameliorated hippocampal cell death and cognitive deficits. Possible mechanisms of action were also investigated.
Main methods: Global cerebral ischemia was induced to mimic ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) damage. The pyramidal cells within the CA1 field were stained with cresyl violet. Cognitive ability was measured 7 days after I/R using a Morris water maze. The anti-inflammatory effects of VPA on microglia were also investigated by immunohistochemistry. Pro-inflammatory cytokine production was determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Western blot analysis was performed to determine the levels of acetylated H3, H4 and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) in extracts from the ischemic hippocampus.
Key findings: VPA significantly increased the density of neurons that survived in the CA1 region of the hippocampus on the 7th day after transient global ischemia. VPA ameliorated severe deficiencies in spatial cognitive performance induced by transient global ischemia. Post-insult treatment with VPA also dramatically suppressed the activation of microglia but not astrocytes, reduced the number of microglia, and inhibited other inflammatory markers in the ischemic brain. VPA treatment resulted in a significant increase in levels of acetylated histones H3 and H4 as well as HSP70 in the hippocampus.
Significance: Our results indicated that VPA protected against hippocampal cell loss and cognitive deficits. Treatment with VPA following cerebral ischemia probably involves multiple mechanisms of action, including inhibition of ischemia-induced cerebral inflammation, inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) and induction of HSP.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.