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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Nov;1056:450-61.

Administration of vaccinia virus complement control protein shows significant cognitive improvement in a mild injury model.

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  • 1Division of Medical Virology, Medical School, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town 7925, South Africa.


Previous studies have shown that traumatic mild brain injury in a rat model is accompanied by breakdown of the blood brain barrier and the accumulation of inflammatory cells. A therapeutic agent, vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP), inhibits both the classic and the alternative pathways of the complement system and, in so doing, prevents cell death and inflammation. With the use of a rat mild injury model, the effects of VCP on spatial learning and memory were tested. Training in a Morris water maze consisted of a total of 16 trials over a 2-day period before rats were anesthetized and subjected to mild (1.0-1.1 atm) lateral fluid percussion injury (FPI) 3.0 mm lateral to the sagittal suture and 4.5 mm posterior to bregma. Ten microl of VCP (1.7 mg/ml) was injected into the injury site immediately after FPI. Two weeks post-FPI the rats were assessed in the Morris water maze for spatial learning and memory. Neurologic motor function tests were carried out after FPI for 14 consecutive days and again after 28 days. The Morris water maze data show that FPI plus saline-injected rats spent a significantly (P <0.05) larger amount of time in one of the incorrect quadrants than did the FPI plus VCP-injected group. Neurologic evaluations 24 hours postinjury revealed differences in sensorimotor function between groups. The results suggest that in a mild injury model, VCP influences neurologic outcome and offers some enhancement in spatial memory and learning.

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