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PLoS One. 2017 Oct 18;12(10):e0186243. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186243. eCollection 2017.

Ceftriaxone- and N-acetylcysteine-induced brain tolerance to ischemia: Influence on glutamate levels in focal cerebral ischemia.

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Department of Biochemical Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Kraków, Poland.
Department of Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland.
Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Laboratory of Drug Addiction Pharmacology, Kraków, Poland.
Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland.


One of the major players in the pathophysiology of cerebral ischemia is disrupted homeostasis of glutamatergic neurotransmission, resulting in elevated extracellular glutamate (Glu) concentrations and excitotoxicity-related cell death. In the brain, Glu concentrations are regulated by Glu transporters, including Glu transporter-1 (GLT-1) and cystine/Glu antiporter (system xc-). Modulation of these transporters by administration of ceftriaxone (CEF, 200 mg/kg, i.p.) or N-acetylcysteine (NAC, 150 mg/kg, i.p.) for 5 days before focal cerebral ischemia may induce brain tolerance to ischemia by significantly limiting stroke-related damage and normalizing Glu concentrations. In the present study, focal cerebral ischemia was induced by 90-minute middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). We compared the effects of CEF and NAC pretreatment on Glu concentrations in extracellular fluid and cellular-specific expression of GLT-1 and xCT with the effects of two reference preconditioning methods, namely, ischemic preconditioning and chemical preconditioning in rats. Both CEF and NAC significantly reduced Glu levels in the frontal cortex and hippocampus during focal cerebral ischemia, and this decrease was comparable with the Glu level achieved with the reference preconditioning strategies. The results of immunofluorescence staining of GLT-1 and xCT on astrocytes, neurons and microglia accounted for the observed changes in extracellular Glu levels to a certain extent. Briefly, after MCAO, the expression of GLT-1 on astrocytes decreased, but pretreatment with CEF seemed to prevent this downregulation. In addition, every intervention used in this study seemed to reduce xCT expression on astrocytes and neurons. The results of this study indicate that modulation of Glu transporter expression may restore Glu homeostasis. Moreover, our results suggest that CEF and NAC may induce brain tolerance to ischemia by influencing GLT-1 and system xc- expression levels. These transporters are presumably good targets for the development of novel therapies for brain ischemia.

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