Background: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) complexed to human serum albumin (Alb) is neuroprotective after experimental stroke. Here we tested using lower concentrations of albumin as part of the complex to achieve neuroprotection. We found that lower Alb concentrations extend the therapeutic window of protection beyond 5 h after stroke onset.
Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were received 2 h middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). The behavior was evaluated on day 1, 2, 3 and 7 after MCAo. In the dose-response study, animals were given either DHA (5mg/kg), Alb (0.63g/kg), DHA-Alb (5mg/kg + 0.32, 0.63 or 1.25 g/kg) or saline, i.v. 3 h after onset of stroke (n=6-8 per group). In the therapeutic window study, DHA-Alb (5mg/kg + 1.25g/kg) was administered i.v. at either 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 h after onset of stroke (n=7-9 per group). Alb (1.25g/kg) was given at 3 h or 5 h and saline at 3h after onset of reperfusion. Seven days after MCAo, infarct volumes and number of GFAP, ED-1, NeuN, SMI-71 positive cells and vessels were counted.
Results: Moderate DHA-Alb doses (0.63 and 1.25 g/kg) improved neurological scores compared to albumin-treated rats on days 1, 2, 3 and 7. All DHA-Alb doses (0.32, 0.63 and 1.25 g/kg) markedly reduced cortical (by 65-70%), striatal (by 52-63%) and total infarct volumes (by 60-64%) compared to native Alb group. In the therapeutic window study DHA-Alb led to improved neurological score and significant reductions of infarct volumes (especially in the cortical or penumbral region), even when treatment was initiated as late as 7 hours after onset of MCAo.
Conclusions: The DHA-Alb complex affords high-grade neurobehavioral neuroprotection in focal cerebral ischemia, equaling or exceeding that afforded by native Alb or DHA, at considerably moderate doses. It has a broad therapeutic window extending to 7 h after stroke onset. Taken together, these finding support the potential clinical feasibility of administering DHA-Alb therapy to patients with acute ischemic stroke.