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J Cell Physiol. 2017 Oct;232(10):2731-2740. doi: 10.1002/jcp.25847. Epub 2017 Apr 25.

NSI-189, a small molecule with neurogenic properties, exerts behavioral, and neurostructural benefits in stroke rats.

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Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, University South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida.
Neuralstem, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.
Neurodigitech, LLC., San Diego, California.


Enhancing neurogenesis may be a powerful stroke therapy. Here, we tested in a rat model of ischemic stroke the beneficial effects of NSI-189, an orally active, new molecular entity (mol. wt. 366) with enhanced neurogenic activity, and indicated as an anti-depressant drug in a clinical trial (Fava et al., , Molecular Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1038/mp.2015.178) and being tested in a Phase 2 efficacy trial (, , Identifier: NCT02695472) for treatment of major depression. Oral administration of NSI-189 in adult Sprague-Dawley rats starting at 6 hr after middle cerebral artery occlusion, and daily thereafter over the next 12 weeks resulted in significant amelioration of stroke-induced motor and neurological deficits, which was maintained up to 24 weeks post-stroke. Histopathological assessment of stroke brains from NSI-189-treated animals revealed significant increments in neurite outgrowth as evidenced by MAP2 immunoreactivity that was prominently detected in the hippocampus and partially in the cortex. These results suggest NSI-189 actively stimulated remodeling of the stroke brain. Parallel in vitro studies further probed this remodeling process and demonstrated that oxygen glucose deprivation and reperfusion (OGD/R) initiated typical cell death processes, which were reversed by NSI-189 treatment characterized by significant attenuation of OGD/R-mediated hippocampal cell death and increased Ki67 and MAP2 expression, coupled with upregulation of neurogenic factors such as BDNF and SCF. These findings support the use of oral NSI-189 as a therapeutic agent well beyond the initial 6-hr time window to accelerate and enhance the overall functional improvement in the initial 6 months post stroke.


behavioral recovery; cerebral ischemia; neurite outgrowth; neurogenesis; pharmacotherapy; trophic factors

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