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Neuroscience. 2003;118(1):107-13.

Combined nimodipine and citicoline reduce infarct size, attenuate apoptosis and increase bcl-2 expression after focal cerebral ischemia.

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  • 1Instituto Teófilo Hernando, Departamento Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Servicio de Farmacología Clínica e Instituto de Gerontología, Hospital de La Princesa, 28029, Madrid, Spain.


Cerebral ischemia triggers a multitude of pathophysiological and biochemical events that separately affect the evolution of focal ischemia and, therefore, stroke treatment should logically employ all known neuroprotective agents. We hypothesized that a treatment combining nimodipine and citicoline might have a potential neuroprotective effect. To assess this idea, Sprague-Dawley rats underwent transient bilateral common carotid artery ligation with simultaneous middle cerebral artery occlusion for 60 min. Four treatment groups were established. Animals received either: a) saline (control group); b) intracarotid nimodipine infusion during 30 min in the ischemia-reperfusion (nimodipine group); c) i.p. postischemic citicoline injections once daily for 7 days (citicoline group); or d) intracarotid nimodipine bolus during ischemia-reperfusion plus i.p. postichemic citicoline injections (combination group). They were killed after either 7 or 3 days after reperfusion. In the first case, the volume of the infarcted tissue was studied by a stereological procedure and in the second case, in situ end-labeling of nuclear DNA fragmentation (TUNEL) and Bcl-2 expression were employed to determine the level of apoptosis. The infarct volume was significantly reduced in both the nimodipine and the citicoline treatment groups after 7 days of reperfusion; combination of both drugs produced an additive effect. After 3 days of reperfusion, the number of Bcl-2-positive neurons was significantly increased while that of TUNEL-positive cells significantly decreased at the infarct border in the combined-treatment animals. Our findings demonstrate a neuroprotective effect from an acute single dose of nimodipine during ischemia-reperfusion and prolonged post-ischemic treatment with citicoline in a model of focal cerebral ischemia. These results suggest that a possible mechanism of neuroprotective action would be mediated by increased Bcl-2 expression and decreased apoptosis within the boundary zone of the infarct together with neutralization of the ischemia-reperfusion injury.

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