Optimal compatible doses and effects of ephedrine and naloxone on neural plasticity in cerebral ischemia/reperfusion rats*⋆

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Ephedrine promotes neural plasticity in rats following cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury. Ephedrine has been combined with naloxone in some studies, and it has been confirmed that their combination has synergistic effects on increasing neural plasticity following cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury.

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the effects of ephedrine combined with various doses of naloxone on neural plasticity and to find an optimal dose of naloxone in rats after cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury by analyzing growth associated protein-43 (GAP-43), synaptophysin and β -endorphin expression in the hippocampal CA3 area.

DESIGN, TIME AND SETTING:

This immunohistochemical, randomized, controlled, animal experiment was performed at the Chongqing Research Institute of Pediatrics, China from September 2007 to June 2008.

MATERIALS:

Ephedrine hydrochloride injection and naloxone hydrochloride injection were respectively purchased from Shandong Lvliang Pharmaceutical Factory, China and Sichuan Jingwei Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., China. A total of 192 healthy adult Sprague Dawley rats were used to establish models of left middle cerebral artery occlusion using the suture occlusion method.

METHODS:

At 2 hours following cerebral ischemia, the rats were intraperitoneally injected with 1.5 mg/kg/d ephedrine (ephedrine group), with 0.1, 0.2, or 0.3 mg/kg/d naloxone (low, moderate and high doses of naloxone groups), with 1.5 mg/kg/d ephedrine + 0.1, 0.2, or 0.3 mg/kg/d naloxone (ephedrine + low, moderate and high doses of naloxone groups), and with 0.5 mL saline (model group), respectively.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

GAP-43, synaptophysin and β -endorphin expression were detected in the hippocampal CA3 area using immunohistochemistry 1–4 weeks after surgery. Sensorimotor integration in rats was assessed using the beam walking test.

RESULTS:

GAP-43 and synaptophysin expression was greater in the ephedrine group, and in the ephedrine + moderate and high doses of naloxone groups compared with the model group. GAP-43 and synaptophysin expression was greatest in the ephedrine + high dose of naloxone group at 2 and 3 weeks after surgery. β -endorphin expression was significantly lower in the ephedrine group, and in the ephedrine + moderate and high doses of naloxone groups compared with the model group (P < 0.05). β -endorphin expression was persistently low in the ephedrine + high dose of naloxone group. At 1–3 weeks after surgery, the beam walking test score was significantly higher in the ephedrine group and ephedrine + various doses of naloxone groups than in the model group (P < 0.05). The score was higher in the ephedrine + moderate and high doses of naloxone groups than in the ephedrine group (P < 0.05). Moreover, the score was increased as the dose of naloxone increased in the ephedrine + various doses of naloxone groups.

CONCLUSION:

Ephedrine promotes GAP-43 and synaptophysin expression, inhibits β -endorphin expression in the hippocampal CA3 area, and improves motor function in rats following cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury. Naloxone does not have the above-mentioned effects. During combined treatment with ephedrine and naloxone, however, the above-described effects are enhanced with an increased dose of naloxone. The combination of ephedrine (1.5 mg/kg/d) and naloxone (0.3 mg/kg/d) can produce optimal therapeutic efficacy in treatment of cerebral ischemic injury.

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