Administration of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) protects the neurovascular unit and reduces secondary injury after traumatic brain injury in mice.
Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Nov ;26(8):1310-21. Epub 2012 Aug 3. PMID: 22884901
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of preventable death and morbidity in young adults. This complex condition is characterized by significant blood brain barrier leakage that stems from cerebral ischemia, inflammation, and redox imbalances in the traumatic penumbra of the injured brain. Recovery of function after TBI is partly through neuronal plasticity. In order to test whether treatments that enhance plasticity might improve functional recovery, a controlled cortical impact (CCI) in adult mice, as a model of TBI, in which a controlled cortical impactor produced full thickness lesions of the forelimb region of the sensorimotor cortex, was performed. Once trauma has occurred, combating these exacerbations is the keystone of an effective TBI therapy. The endogenous fatty acid palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is one of the members of N-acyl-ethanolamines family that maintain not only redox balance but also inhibit the mechanisms of secondary injury. Therefore, we tested whether PEA shows efficacy in a mice model of experimental TBI. PEA treatment is able to reduced edema and brain infractions as evidenced by decreased 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining across brain sections. PEA-mediated improvements in tissues histology shown by reduction of lesion size and improvement in apoptosis level further support the efficacy of PEA therapy. The PEA treatment blocked infiltration of astrocytes and restored CCI-mediated reduced expression of PAR, nitrotyrosine, iNOS, chymase, tryptase, CD11b and GFAP. PEA inhibited the TBI-mediated decrease in the expression of pJNK and NF-κB. PEA-treated injured animals improved neurobehavioral functions as evaluated by behavioral tests.