Ceftriaxone treatment after traumatic brain injury restores expression of the glutamate transporter, GLT-1, reduces regional gliosis, and reduces post-traumatic seizures in the rat

J Neurotrauma. 2013 Aug 15;30(16):1434-41. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2712. Epub 2013 Jul 25.


Excessive extracellular glutamate after traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to excitotoxic cell death and likely to post-traumatic epilepsy. Glutamate transport is the only known mechanism of extracellular glutamate clearance, and glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) is the major glutamate transporter of the mammalian brain. We tested, by immunoblot, in the rat lateral fluid percussion injury TBI model whether GLT-1 expression is depressed in the cortex after TBI, and whether GLT-1 expression after TBI is restored after treatment with ceftriaxone, a well-tolerated β-lactam antibiotic previously shown to enhance GLT-1 expression in noninjured animals. We then tested whether treatment with ceftriaxone mitigates the associated regional astrogliosis, as reflected by glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) expression, and also whether ceftriaxone treatment mitigates the severity of post-traumatic epilepsy. We found that 7 days after TBI, GLT-1 expression in the ipsilesional cortex was reduced by 29% (n=7/group; p<0.01), relative to the contralesional cortex. However, the loss of GLT-1 expression was reversed by treatment with ceftriaxone (200 mg/kg, daily, intraperitoneally). We found that ceftriaxone treatment also decreased the level of regional GFAP expression by 43% in the lesioned cortex, relative to control treatment with saline (n=7 per group; p<0.05), and, 12 weeks after injury, reduced cumulative post-traumatic seizure duration (n=6 rats in the ceftriaxone treatment group and n=5 rats in the saline control group; p<0.001). We cautiously conclude that our data suggest a potential role for ceftriaxone in treatment of epileptogenic TBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Ceftriaxone / pharmacology
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use*
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2 / biosynthesis*
  • Gliosis / metabolism*
  • Gliosis / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Seizures / metabolism*
  • Seizures / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2
  • Slc1a2 protein, rat
  • Ceftriaxone