Inhibition of Na+-K+-2Cl cotransporter attenuates blood-brain-barrier disruption in a mouse model of traumatic brain injury

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to long-term motor and cognitive dysfunction, which can be at least partly attributed to blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption. The mechanisms underlying post-TBI BBB disruption, however, are poorly understood thus far. Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter isoform 1 (NKCC1) is a universally expressed ion transporter that maintains intracellular ion homeostasis by increasing intracellular K+ and Cl. Having been characterized in stroke models, NKCC1 is activated in various cell types in the ischemic brain, and is thought to mediate BBB disruption, brain edema, and neuronal cell death. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that inhibition of NKCC1 may improve neurological outcomes via protecting against BBB disruption in a TBI mouse model. Adult male C57BL/6 J mice or NKCC1 deficient mice were subjected to controlled cortical impact (CCI). As an alternative to the genetic-based NKCC1 depletion, bumetanide, a selective NKCC1 inhibitor, was administrated (25 mg/kg, i.p.) 15 min after CCI and then every 6 h up to 48 h. Short-term sensorimotor function recovery was determined by rotarod, cylinder test, grid walking and foot fault test. BBB integrity was examined at 48 h post-CCI by measuring Evans blue extravasation, brain water content, and expression levels of tight junction proteins. Our results revealed that administration of bumetanide or genetic depletion of NKCC1 improved short-term neurological recovery against TBI. Bumetanide treatment markedly decreased brain water content and BBB leakage, correlated with reduction of MMP-9 expression and preventing the degradation of tight junction proteins. These findings suggest an important role of NKCC1 activation in mediating BBB disruption after TBI. Thus, NKCC1 inhibition may offer the potential for improving neurological outcomes in clinical TBI.HIGHLIGHTSNKCC1 contributes to TBI-induced BBB breakdown.Inhibition of NKCC1 with bumetanide protects BBB integrity after TBI.Bumetanide attenuates BBB leakage by suppressing MMP9 overproduction post TBI.

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