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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Oct 26;96(22):12866-9.

MEK1 protein kinase inhibition protects against damage resulting from focal cerebral ischemia.

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  • 1Medical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


The MEK1 (MAP kinase/ERK kinase)/ERK (extracellular-signal-responsive kinase) pathway has been implicated in cell growth and differentiation [Seger, R. & Krebs, E. G. (1995) FASEB J. 9, 726-735]. Here we show that the MEK/ERK pathway is activated during focal cerebral ischemia and may play a role in inducing damage. Treatment of mice 30 min before ischemia with the MEK1-specific inhibitor PD98059 [Alessi, D. R., Cuenda, A., Cohen, P. , Dudley, D. T. & Saltiel, A. R. (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270, 27489-27494] reduces focal infarct volume at 22 hr after ischemia by 55% after transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. This is accompanied by a reduction in phospho-ERK1/2 immunohistochemical staining. MEK1 inhibition also results in reduced brain damage 72 hr after ischemia, with focal infarct volume reduced by 36%. This study indicates that the MEK1/ERK pathway contributes to brain injury during focal cerebral ischemia and that PD98059, a MEK1-specific antagonist, is a potent neuroprotective agent.

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