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Mol Med Rep. 2015 Aug;12(2):1796-802. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.3612. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

Ulinastatin inhibits cerebral ischemia-induced apoptosis in the hippocampus of gerbils.

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Department of Urology, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul 110‑746, Republic of Korea.
Department of Physiology, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul 130‑701, Republic of Korea.
Department of Physical Therapy, Kyungnam University, Changwon 631‑701, Republic of Korea.
Department of Pediatrics, Eulji General Hospital, Eulji University School of Medicine, Seoul 139‑872, Republic of Korea.
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Kang Dong Kyung Hee Hospital, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul 134‑727, Republic of Korea.


Ulinastatin is a urinary trypsin inhibitor, originally extracted and purified from human urine. Ulinastatin has cytoprotective effects against ischemic injury in several organs. In the present study, the neuroprotective effects of ulinastatin following ischemic cerebral injury in the hippocampus of gerbils was investigated. To induce transient global ischemia in gerbils, the common carotid arteries were occluded using aneurysm clips for 5 min, and the clips were then removed. Ulinastatin was subcutaneously injected into the gerbils once a day for 7 days at doses of 50,000 or 100,000 U/kg. The gerbils were confronted with a step-down avoidance task, following which tissue samples from the gerbils were examined using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining, western blot analysis for B-cell lymphoma (Bcl-2) and Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), immunohistochemistry for caspase-3 and immunofluorescence for 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine. The numbers of TUNEL-positive and caspase-3-positive cells in the hippocampal CA1 region increased following cerebral ischemia. The expression of Bax in the hippocampus increased, while the expression of Bcl-2 in the hippocampus decreased following cerebral ischemia. These results confirmed that apoptosis in the hippocampus was enhanced following cerebral ischemia in gerbils. The levels of cell proliferation in the hippocampal dentate gyrus were also enhanced by ischemia, which is possibly an adaptive mechanism to compensate for excessive levels of apoptosis. Ulinastatin treatment inhibited ischemia-induced apoptosis by suppressing apoptosis-associated molecules, and thus ameliorated ischemia-induced short-term memory impairment. The cell proliferation in the hippocampus was also suppressed following ulinastatin treatment. These results suggested the use of ulinastatin as a therapeutic agent for patients with cerebral stroke.

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