Neuroprotection with a calpain inhibitor in a model of focal cerebral ischemia

Seung Chyul Hong, Yasunobu Goto, Giuseppe Lanzino, Scott Soleau, Neal F. Kassell, Kevin S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose Excessive elevation of intracellular calcium and uncontrolled activation of calcium-sensitive events are believed to play a central role in ischemic neuronal damage. Calcium-activated proteolysis by calpain is a candidate to participate in this form of pathology because it is activated under ischemic conditions and its activation results in the degradation of crucial cytoskeletal and regulatory proteins. The present studies examined the effects of a cellpenetrating inhibitor of calpain on the pathological outcome after transient focal ischemia in the brain. Methods Twenty-five male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups: A saline-treated group, a vehicletreated group, and two calpain inhibitor-treated groups (Cbz-Val-Phe-H; 30-mg/kg and 60-mg/kg cumulative doses). Ischemia was induced by occluding the left middle cerebral artery and both common carotid arteries for 3 hours followed by reperfusion. Animals were killed 72 hours after surgery, and quantitative measurements of infarction volumes were performed using histological techniques. Eight additional rats were killed 30 minutes after ischemia and examined for the extent of proteolysis using immunoblot techniques. A final group of 12 animals was decapitated after injection of vehicle or calpain inhibitor, and the proteolytic response was measured after 60 minutes of total ischemia. Results Rats treated with Cbz-Val-Phe-H exhibited significantly smaller volumes of cerebral infarction than saline-treated or vehicle-treated control animals. Intravenous injections of cumulative doses of 30 mg/kg or 60 mg/kg of Cbz-Val-Phe-H were effective in reducing infarction, edema, and calcium-activated proteolysis. The proteolytic response to postdecapitation ischemia was also reduced by the calpain inhibitor. Conclusions These results demonstrate the neuroprotective effect of a cell-penetrating calpain inhibitor when administered systemically. The findings suggest that targeting intra-cellular, calcium-activated mechanisms, such as proteolysis, represents a viable therapeutic strategy for limiting neurological damage after ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-669
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994


  • Calpain inhibitor
  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Focal
  • Neuroprotection
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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