Object. Abnormal accumulation of intracellular calcium following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is thought to contribute to a cascade of cellular events that lead to neuropathological conditions. Therefore, the possibility that specific calcium channel antagonists might exert neuroprotective effects in TBI has been of interest. The focus of this study was to examine whether Ziconotide produces such neuroprotective effects.
Methods. The authors report that the acceleration—deceleration model of TBI developed by Marmarou, et al., induces a long-lasting deficit of neuromotor and behavioral function. The voltage-sensitive calcium channel blocker Ziconotide (also known as SNX-111 and CI-1009) exerts neuroprotective effects in this model of diffuse brain injury (DBI) in rats. The dose and time of injection of Ziconotide chosen for the present study was based on the authors' previous biochemical studies of mitochondria. Rats were trained in a series of motor and memory tasks, following which they were subjected to DBI using the Marmarou, et al., model. At 3, 5, and 24 hours, all rats were injected with 2 mg/kg Ziconotide for a total cumulative dose of 6 mg/kg Ziconotide. Control brain-injured animals were injected with an equal volume of saline vehicle at each of these time points. The rats were tested for motor and cognitive performance at 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 days postinjury. Saline-treated rats displayed severe motor and cognitive deficits after DBI. Compared with saline-treated control animals, rats treated with Ziconotide displayed better motor performance during inclined plane, beam balance, and beam walk tests; improved memory while in the radial arm maze; and improved learning while in the Morris water maze.
Conclusions. These results demonstrated that the acceleration—deceleration model, which had been developed by Marmarou, et al., induces severe motor and cognitive deficits. We also demonstrated that Ziconotide exhibits substantial neuroprotective activity in this model of TBI. Improvement was observed in both motor and cognitive tasks, even though treatment was not initiated until 3 hours after injury. These findings support the development of neuronal N-type calcium channel antagonists as useful therapeutic agents in the treatment of TBI.