Ginkgo Biloba Extract Neuroprotective Action Is Dependent on Heme Oxygenase 1 in Ischemic Reperfusion Brain Injury

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Ginkgo biloba extracts are now prescribed in several countries for their reported health benefits, particularly for medicinal properties in the brain. The standardized Ginkgo extract, EGb761, has been reported to protect neurons against oxidative stress, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood.

Methods—

To characterize the oral consumption of EGb761 in transient ischemia, we performed the middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) filament model in wild-type and heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) knockouts. Mice were pretreated for 7 days before the transient occlusion or posttreated acutely during reperfusion; then neurobehavioral scores and infarct volumes were assessed. Furthermore, primary cortical neuronal cultures were used to investigate the contribution of the antioxidant enzyme HO-1 in the EGb761-associated cytoprotection.

Results—

Mice that were pretreated with EGb761 had 50.9±5.6% less neurological dysfunction and 48.2±5.3% smaller infarct volumes than vehicle-treated mice; this effect was abolished in HO-1 knockouts. In addition to the prophylactic properties of EGb761, acute posttreatment 5 minutes and 4.5 hours after reperfusion also led to significant reduction in infarct size (P<0.01). After our previous demonstration that EGb761 significantly induced HO-1 levels in a dose- and time-dependent manner in neuronal cultures, here we revealed that this de novo HO-1 induction was required for neuroprotection against free radical damage and excitotoxicity as it was significantly attenuated by the enzyme inhibitor.

Conclusion—

These results demonstrate that EGb761 could be used as a preventive or therapeutic agent in cerebral ischemia and suggest that HO-1 contributes, at least in part, to EGb761 neuroprotection.

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