Object. The use of thrombolytic agents in the treatment of stroke has yielded surprisingly modest success, possibly because of reperfusion injury mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Therefore, scavenging ROS may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of stroke. Nitroxides are low-weight superoxide dismutase mimics, which allows them to act as cell-permeable antioxidants. In this study the nitroxide 4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6,-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl (Tempol) is investigated to determine its ability to reduce reperfusion injury.
Methods. Male Sprague—Dawley rats weighing between 280 g and 350 g underwent middle cerebral artery occlusion with an intraluminal suture for 60 minutes. Regional cerebral blood flow, blood pressure, cerebral temperature, and rectal temperature were monitored during the procedure. After reperfusion, the animals were randomized to groups receiving blinded intravenous administration of either Tempol (10 mg/kg; eight animals) or vehicle (eight animals) over the first 20 minutes of reperfusion (Study I). In a second study to determine dose dependency, animals were randomized to groups receiving Tempol (20 mg/kg; eight animals), low-dose Tempol (5 mg/kg; eight animals), or vehicle (eight animals; Study II). The rats were killed after 4 hours of reperfusion, and brain sections were stained with 2,3,5 triphenyltetrazolium chloride. Infarct volumes were measured using digital imaging.
Animals receiving Tempol had significantly reduced infarct volumes at doses of 20 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg compared with controls (49.01 ± 18.22% reduction [p = 0.003] and 47.47 ± 34.57 [p = 0.02], respectively). No significant differences in the physiological variables measured were observed between groups.
Conclusions. Tempol provides significant neuroprotection after reperfusion in a rat model of transient focal ischemia. These results support the importance of ROS in reperfusion injury and encourage further study of this molecule as a therapeutic agent following thrombolysis.