Helium preconditioning protects the brain against hypoxia/ischemia injuryviaimproving the neurovascular niche in a neonatal rat model

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This study aimed to investigate whether helium preconditioning (He-PC) is able to exert neuroprotective effects via improving focal neurovascular niche in a neonatal rat hypoxia/ischemia (HI) brain injury model. Seven day old rat pups were divided into control group, HI group and He-PC group. HI was induced by exposure to 8% oxygen for 90 min one day after preconditioning with 70% helium—30% oxygen for three 5-min periods. At 3 and 7 days, the brain was collected for the detection of inflammation related factors (tumor necrosis factor α [TNF-α], interleukin-1β [IL-1β], IL-10) and growth/neurotrophic factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], basic fibroblast growth factor [bFGF] and nerve growth factor [NGF]); at 7 days, neurobehaviors were evaluated, and the brain was collected for the detection of mRNA expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) by PCR, protein expression of angiogenesis related molecules (VEGF, Ang-1, Tie-2 and Flt-1) by Western blotting and microvessel density (MCD) by immunohistochemistry for vWF. Results showed He-PC was able to reduce TNF-α and IL-1β, further increase IL-10, BDNF, bFGF and NGF, elevate the mRNA expression of VEGF and Ang-1, increase the protein expression of VEGF, Ang-1, Tie-2 and Flt-1, promote angiogenesis and improve neurobehaviors as compared to HI group. These findings suggest that He-PC may improve the post-stroke neurovascular niche to exert neuroprotective effects on neonatal HI brain injury.

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