Background Shengui Sansheng Pulvis (SSP) has about 300 years history used for stroke treatment, and evidences suggest it has beneficial effects on neuro-angiogenesis and cerebral energy metabolic amelioration post-stroke. However, its protective action and mechanisms on blood-brain barrier (BBB) is still unknown. Purpose Based on multiple neuroprotective properties of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) in neurological disorders, we investigate if SSP maintaining BBB integrity is associated with VIP pathway in rat permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) model. Methods Three doses of SSP extraction were administered orally. Evaluations of motor and balance abilities and detection of brain edema were performed, and BBB permeability were assessed by Evans blue (EB) staining. Primary brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) were subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation, and incubated with high dose SSP drug-containing serum and VIP-antagonist respectively. Transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) assay and Tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate (TRITC)-dextran (4.4 kDa) and fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran (70 kDa) were used to evaluate the features of paracellular junction. Western blot detected the expressions of Claudin-5, ZO-1, Occludin and VE-cadherin, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2/9 and VIP receptors 1/2, and immunofluorescence staining tested VIP and Claudin-5 expressions. Results Our results show that SSP significantly reduces EB infiltration in dose-dependent manner in vivo and attenuates TRITC- dextran and FITC-dextran diffusion in vitro, and strengthens endothelial junctional complexes as represented by decreasing Claudin-5, ZO-1, Occludin and VE-cadherin degradations and MMP 2/9 expression, as well as promoting TEER in BMECs after ischemia. Moreover, it suggests that SSP notably enhances VIP and its receptors 1/2 expressions. VIP-antagonist exacerbates paracellular barrier of BMECs, while the result is reversed after incubation with high dose SSP drug-containing serum. Additionally, SSP also improve brain edema and motor and balance abilities after ischemic stroke. Conclusions we firstly demonstrate that the ameliorated efficacy of SSP on BBB permeability is related to the enhancements of VIP and its receptors, suggesting SSP might be an effective therapeutic agent on maintaining BBB integrity post-stroke.
Keywords: Blood-brain barrier; Ischemic stroke; Shengui Sansheng Pulvis; Vasoactive intestinal peptide.
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