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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009 May;329(2):687-98. doi: 10.1124/jpet.108.148676. Epub 2009 Feb 6.

Edaravone, a free radical scavenger, protects against retinal damage in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Biofunctional Evaluation, Molecular Pharmacology, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Gifu, Japan.


Edaravone (3-methyl-1-phenyl-2-pyrazolin-5-one), a free radical scavenger, is used for the treatment of acute cerebral infarction. In this study, we investigated whether edaravone is neuroprotective against retinal damage. In vitro, we used a radical-scavenging capacity assay using reactive oxygen species-sensitive probes to investigate the effects of edaravone on H(2)O(2), superoxide anion (O(2)*), and hydroxyl radical (*OH) production in a rat retinal ganglion cell line (RGC-5). The effect of edaravone on oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD)-induced RGC-5 damage was evaluated using a 2-(2-methoxy-4-nitrophenyl)-3-(4-nitrophenyl)-5-(2,4-disulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium, monosodium salt assay of cell viability. Edaravone (3-methyl-1-phenyl-2-pyrazolin-5-one) significantly decreased radical generation and reduced the cell death induced by OGD stress. In vivo, retinal damage was induced by intravitreous injection of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA; 5 nmol) and was evaluated by examining ganglion cell layer cell loss, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) staining, and the expressions of two oxidant-stress markers [4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) and 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG)]. In addition, activations of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) [extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases (ERK), c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinases (JNK), and p38 MAPK], as downstream signal pathways after NMDA receptor activation, were measured using immunoblotting and immunostaining. Edaravone at 5 and 50 nmol intravitreous injection or at 1 and 3 mg/kg i.v. significantly protected against NMDA-induced retinal cell death. At 50 nmol intravitreous injection, it 1) decreased the retinal expressions of TUNEL-positive cells, 4-HNE, and 8-OHdG and 2) reduced the retinal expressions of NMDA-induced phosphorylated JNK and phosphorylated p38 but not that of phosphorylated ERK. These findings suggest that oxidative stress plays a pivotal role in retinal damage and that edaravone may be a candidate for the effective treatment of retinal diseases.

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