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Neuroscience. 2007 May 11;146(2):617-29. Epub 2007 Mar 23.

Neuroprotective potential of ceftriaxone in in vitro models of stroke.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92-019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.


Astrocytic glutamate transporters are considered an important target for neuroprotective therapies as the function of these transporters is abnormal in stroke and other neurological disorders associated with excitotoxicity. Recently, Rothstein et al., [Rothstein JD, Patel S, Regan MR, Haenggeli C, Huang YH, Bergles DE, Jin L, Dykes Hoberg M, Vidensky S, Chung DS, Toan SV, Bruijn LI, Su ZZ, Gupta P, Fisher PB (2005) Beta-lactam antibiotics offer neuroprotection by increasing glutamate transporter expression. Nature 433:73-77] reported that beta-lactam antibiotics (including ceftriaxone, which easily crosses the blood-brain barrier) increase glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) expression and reduce cell death resulting from oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) in dissociated embryonic cortical cultures. To determine whether a similar neuroprotective mechanism operates in more mature neurons, which show a different pattern of response to ischemia than primary cultures, we exposed acute hippocampal slices obtained from rats treated with ceftriaxone for 5 days (200 mg/kg; i.p.) to OGD. Whole-cell patch clamp recording of glutamate-induced N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) currents from CA1 pyramidal neurons showed a larger potentiation of these currents after application of 15 microM dl-threo-beta-benzyloxyaspartic acid (TBOA; a potent blocker of glutamate transporters) in ceftriaxone-injected animals than in untreated animals, indicating increased glutamate transporter activity. Western blot analysis did not reveal GLT-1 upregulation in the hippocampus. Delay to OGD-induced hypoxic spreading depression (HSD) recorded in slices obtained from ceftriaxone-treated rats was longer (6.3+/-0.2 vs. 5.2+/-0.2 min; P<0.001) than that in the control group, demonstrating a neuroprotective action of the antibiotic in this model. The effect of ceftriaxone was also tested in organotypic hippocampal slices obtained from P7-9 rats (>14 days in vitro). OGD or glutamate (3.5-5.0 mM) damaged CA1 pyramidal neurons as assessed by propidium iodide (PI) fluorescence. Similar damage was observed after pre-treatment with ceftriaxone (10-200 microM; 5 days) and ceftriaxone exposure did not result in GLT-1 upregulation as assayed by Western blot. Treatment of slice cultures with dibutyryl cAMP (100-250 microM; 5 days) increased GLT-1 expression but did not reduce cell damage induced by OGD or glutamate. Thus we confirm the neuroprotective effect of antibiotic exposure on OGD-induced injury, but suggest that this action is related to independent modulation of transporter activity rather than to the level of GLT-1 protein expression. In addition, our results indicate that the protective effects of beta-lactam antibiotics are highly dependent on the experimental model.

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