Neuroprotective and neuro-rehabilitative effects of acute purinergic receptor P2X4 (P2X4R) blockade after ischemic stroke

Exp Neurol. 2020 Jul:329:113308. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2020.113308. Epub 2020 Apr 11.


Stroke remains a leading cause of disability in the United States. Despite recent advances, interventions to reduce damage and enhance recovery after stroke are lacking. P2X4R, a receptor for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), regulates activation of myeloid immune cells (infiltrating monocytes/macrophages and brain-resident microglia) after stroke injury. However, over-stimulation of P2X4Rs due to excessive ATP release from dying or damaged neuronal cells can contribute to ischemic injury. Therefore, we pharmacologically inhibited P2X4R to limit the over-stimulated myeloid cell immune response and improve both acute and chronic stroke recovery. We subjected 8-12-week-old male and female wild type mice to a 60 min right middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) followed by 3 or 30 days of reperfusion. We performed histological, RNA sequencing, behavioral (sensorimotor, anxiety, and depressive), and biochemical (Evans blue dye extravasation, western blot, quantitative PCR, and flow cytometry) analyses to determine the acute (3 days after MCAo) and chronic (30 days after MCAo) effects of P2X4R antagonist 5-BDBD (1 mg/kg P.O. daily x 3 days post 4 h of MCAo) treatment. 5-BDBD treatment significantly (p < .05) reduced infarct volume, neurological deficit (ND) score, levels of cytokine interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability in the 3-day group. Chronically, 5-BDBD treatment also conferred progressive recovery (p < .05) of motor balance and coordination using a rotarod test, as well as reduced anxiety-like behavior over 30 days. Interestingly, depressive-type behavior was not observed in mice treated with 5-BDBD for 3 days. In addition, flow cytometric analysis revealed that 5-BDBD treatment decreased the total number of infiltrated leukocytes, and among those infiltrated leukocytes, pro-inflammatory cells of myeloid origin were specifically reduced. 5-BDBD treatment reduced the cell surface expression of P2X4R in flow cytometry-sorted monocytes and microglia without reducing the total P2X4R level in brain tissue. In summary, acute P2X4R inhibition protects against ischemic injury at both acute and chronic time-points after stroke. Reduced numbers of infiltrating pro-inflammatory myeloid cells, decreased surface P2X4R expression, and reduced BBB disruption are likely its mechanism of neuroprotection and neuro-rehabilitation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzodiazepinones / pharmacology
  • Benzodiazepinones / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke / metabolism*
  • Ischemic Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Ischemic Stroke / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuroprotection / drug effects
  • Neuroprotection / physiology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Purinergic P2X Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Purinergic P2X Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X4 / metabolism


  • 5-(3-bromophenyl)-1,3-dihydro-2H-benzofuro(3,2-e)-1,4-diazepin-2-one
  • Benzodiazepinones
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • P2RX4 protein, human
  • Purinergic P2X Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X4