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Stroke. 2017 Jul;48(7):1948-1956. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.117.016474. Epub 2017 Jun 6.

Sustained Neurological Recovery After Stroke in Aged Rats Treated With a Novel Prostacyclin Analog.

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From the Departments of Neuroscience (C.Y., K.M.D, E.C.-J.), Anesthesiology (J.C.A.), and Psychiatry (M.F.), University of Florida, Gainesville.
From the Departments of Neuroscience (C.Y., K.M.D, E.C.-J.), Anesthesiology (J.C.A.), and Psychiatry (M.F.), University of Florida, Gainesville.



Targeting the prostaglandin I2 prostanoid (IP) receptor to reduce stroke injury has been hindered by the lack of selective drugs. MRE-269 is the active metabolite of selexipag showing a high selectivity toward the IP receptor. Selexipag has been recently approved for clinical use in pulmonary hypertension. We hypothesized that postischemic treatment with MRE-269 provides long-lasting neuroprotection with improved neurological outcomes in a clinically relevant rat stroke model.


Aged male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent transient middle cerebral artery occlusion and were randomly selected to receive either vehicle or MRE-269 (0.25 mg/kg) intravenously starting at 4.5 hours post ischemia. Accelerating rotarod and adhesive removal tests were conducted before and at 3, 7, 14, and 21 days after stroke. Infarct volume was quantified by magnetic resonance imaging at 48 hours and 21 days post middle cerebral artery occlusion. In parallel experiments, cerebral cortex samples from stroke and nonstroke sides from vehicle- and MRE-269-treated groups were collected at 18 hours post middle cerebral artery occlusion for molecular biology analyses.


Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging data showed that postischemic MRE-269 treatment significantly reduced infarct volume compared with vehicle-treated rats at both 48 hours and 3 weeks after stroke. MRE-269 treatment resulted in a significant long-term recovery in both locomotor and somatosensory functions after middle cerebral artery occlusion, which was associated with a reduced weight loss in animals receiving the IP receptor agonist. Postischemic MRE-269 treatment reduced proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines and oxidative stress. Damage to the blood-brain barrier, as assessed by extravasation of immunoglobulin G to the ischemic brain, was significantly reduced by MRE-269, which was associated with a reduction in matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity in the brain of stroked aged rats given the IP agonist at 4.5 hours after ischemia onset.


Our data suggest that targeting the IP receptor with MRE-269 is a novel strategy to reduce cerebral ischemia injury and promote long-term neurological recovery in ischemic stroke.


blood–brain barrier; inflammation; matrix metalloproteinase-9; oxidative stress; stroke

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