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Brain Behav Immun. 2010 Nov;24(8):1354-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2010.06.015. Epub 2010 Jul 3.

The β2-adrenoceptor agonist clenbuterol elicits neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic actions in the kainic acid model of excitotoxicity.

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Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Excitotoxicity is a mechanism of neuronal cell death implicated in a range of neurodegenerative conditions. Systemic administration of the excitotoxin kainic acid (KA) induces inflammation and apoptosis in the hippocampus, resulting in neuronal loss. Evidence indicates that stimulation of glial β(2)-adrenoceptors has anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic properties that could result in neuroprotection. Consequently, in this study we examined the effect of the β(2)-adrenoceptor agonist clenbuterol on KA-induced inflammation, neurotrophic factor expression and apoptosis in the hippocampus. Clenbuterol (0.5mg/kg) was administered to rats one hour prior to KA (10mg/kg). Epileptic behaviour induced by KA was assessed for three hours following administration using the Racine scale. Twenty-four hours later TUNEL staining in the CA3 hippocampal subfield and hippocampal caspase-3 activity was assessed to measure KA-induced apoptosis. In addition, expression of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β and IFN-γ), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), kynurenine pathway enzymes indolamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and kynurenine monooxygenase (KMO), the microglial activation marker CD11b, and the neurotrophins BDNF and NGF were quantified in the hippocampus using real-time PCR. Whilst clenbuterol treatment did not significantly alter KA-induced epileptic behavior it ameliorated KA-induced apoptosis, and this neuroprotective effect was accompanied by reduced inflammatory cytokine expression, reduced expression of iNOS, IDO, KMO and CD11b, coupled with increased BDNF and NGF expression in KA-treated rats. In conclusion, the β(2)-adrenoceptor agonist clenbuterol has anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic actions and elicits a neuroprotective effect in the KA model of neurodegeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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