Cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrated short-term neuroprotective effects in the immature brain following hypoxia-ischemia (HI). We examined whether CBD neuroprotection is sustained over a prolonged period. Newborn Wistar rats underwent HI injury (10% oxygen for 120 min after left carotid artery electrocoagulation) and then received vehicle (HV, n = 22) or 1 mg/kg CBD (HC, n = 23). Sham animals were similarly treated (SV, n = 16 and SC, n = 16). The extent of brain damage was determined by magnetic resonance imaging, histological evaluation (neuropathological score, 0-5), magnetic resonance spectroscopy and Western blotting. Several neurobehavioral tests (RotaRod, cylinder rear test[CRT],and novel object recognition[NOR]) were carried out 30 days after HI (P37). CBD modulated brain excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation seven days after HI. We observed that HI led to long-lasting functional impairment, as observed in all neurobehavioral tests at P37, whereas the results of HC animals were similar to those of sham animals (all p < 0.05 vs. HV). CBD reduced brain infarct volume by 17% (p < 0.05) and lessened the extent of histological damage. No differences were observed between the SV and SC groups in any of the experiments. In conclusion, CBD administration after HI injury to newborn rats led to long-lasting neuroprotection, with the overall effect of promoting greater functional rather than histological recovery. These effects of CBD were not associated with any side effects. These results emphasize the interest in CBD as a neuroprotective agent for neonatal HI.
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