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Brain Res. 2001 Feb 16;892(1):70-7.

SB 239063, a novel p38 inhibitor, attenuates early neuronal injury following ischemia.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, PO Box 1539, 709 Swedeland Road, King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA.


The aim of the present study was to evaluate p38 MAPK activation following focal stroke and determine whether SB 239063, a novel second generation p38 inhibitor, would directly attenuate early neuronal injury. Following permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), brains were dissected into ischemic and non-ischemic cortices and Western blots were employed to measure p38 MAPK activation. Neurologic deficit and MR imaging were utilized at various time points following MCAO to monitor the development and resolution of brain injury. Following MCAO, there was an early (15 min) activation of p38 MAPK (2.3-fold) which remained elevated up to 1 h (1.8-fold) post injury compared to non-ischemic and sham operated tissue. Oral SB 239063 (5, 15, 30, 60 mg/kg) administered to each animal 1 h pre- and 6 h post MCAO provided significant (P<0.05) dose-related neuroprotection reducing infarct size by 42, 48, 29 and 14%, respectively. The most effective dose (15 mg/kg) was further evaluated in detail and SB 239063 significantly (P<0.05) reduced neurologic deficit and infarct size by at least 30% from 24 h through at least 1 week. Early (i.e. observed within 2 h) reductions in diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) intensity following treatment with SB 239063 correlated (r=0.74, P<0.01) to neuroprotection seen up to 7 days post stroke. Since increased protein levels for various pro-inflammatory cytokines cannot be detected prior to 2 h in this stroke model, the early improvements due to p38 inhibition, observed using DWI, demonstrate that p38 inhibition can be neuroprotective through direct effects on ischemic brain cells, in addition to effects on inflammation.

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