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Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Feb;13(3):569-75.

The selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor rofecoxib reduces kainate-induced cell death in the rat hippocampus.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala Biomedical Centre, PO Box 591, SE-751 24 Uppsala, Sweden.


Treatment of male Sprague-Dawley rats with kainic acid (10 mg/kg, i.p.) triggered limbic seizures in 60% of the animals starting within 30 min and lasting for about 6 h. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) mRNA was strongly induced in the pyramidal cells of the hippocampus, in the amygdala and the piriform cortex after 8 h, as shown by in situ hybridization, and returned to control levels after 72 h. At this time marked cell loss occurred in the CA1-CA3 areas of the hippocampus. We hypothesize that rofecoxib, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, might abbreviate the late neurotoxicity, possibly associated with COX-2 induction. Animals which developed seizures were treated for 3 days with rofecoxib (10 mg/kg, i.p., n = 12) starting 6 or 8 h after kainic acid injection. Histological staining of viable cells confirmed that rofecoxib treatment selectively diminished cell loss in the hippocampus. The TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) technique was used to estimate delayed cell death. Abundant TUNEL-positive cells were detected in seizure rats 72 h after kainic acid injection in pyramidal cells of the hippocampus (CA1-CA3), in cells of the thalamus, the amygdala and the piriform cortex. Treatment with rofecoxib selectively and significantly (P < 0.05) attenuated the number of TUNEL-positive cells in the hippocampus, whereas the cells of the thalamus, amygdala and piriform cortex were not protected. Therefore we conclude that COX-2 might contribute to cell death of pyramidal cells of the hippocampus as a consequence of limbic seizures.

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