Antidepressant fluvoxamine reduces cerebral infarct volume and ameliorates sensorimotor dysfunction in experimental stroke

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The sigma-1 receptor has been reported to be associated with diverse biological activities including cellular differentiation, neuroplasticity, neuroprotection, and cognitive functioning of the brain. Fluvoxamine, one of the currently known antidepressants, is a sigma-1 receptor agonist; its effectiveness in treating acute cerebral ischemia has not been reported. We studied the in-vivo effects of this compound using an animal model of focal cerebral ischemia. Forty male Sprague–Dawley rats were subjected to right middle cerebral artery occlusion and assigned to five treatment groups (n=8 each). Postischemic neurological deficits and infarct volume were determined 24 h after stroke-inducing surgery. Significant reductions in infarct volume (total and cortical) were found in group 2 (fluvoxamine 20 mg/kg given 6 h before and immediately after ischemic onset) and group 3 (fluvoxamine given immediately after ischemic onset and 2 h later) compared with controls. Fluvoxamine induced significant amelioration of sensorimotor dysfunction, as indicated by the scores of forelimb and hindlimb placing tests. Moreover, NE-100, a selective sigma-1 receptor antagonist, completely blocked the neuroprotective effect of fluvoxamine. The present findings suggest that the sigma-1 receptor agonist fluvoxamine reduces infarct volume and ameliorates neurological impairment even on postischemic treatment. From the clinical viewpoint, fluvoxamine may be a promising new therapeutic approach for cerebral infarction.

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