Neuroprotective effect of combining tanshinone IIA with low-dose methylprednisolone following acute spinal cord injury in rats.
Exp Ther Med. 2017 May ;13(5):2193-2202. Epub 2017 Mar 28. PMID: 28565827
The present study compared the potential neuroprotective effect of tanshinone IIA (TIIA) monotherapy, methylprednisolone (MP) monotherapy and combined treatment in an adult acute spinal cord injury (ASCI) rat model. The current study used the weight-drop method (Allen's Impactor) in the rat model and the mechanical scratch method in primary spinal cord neuron culture to determine whether the combined treatment was able to reduce the required dosage of MP in the treatment of ASCI to produce a similar or improved therapeutic effect.male Sprague Dawley rats (n=60) were randomly divided into 5 groups, of which 12 rats were selected for the sham group and T9-T11 laminectomies, leading to ASCI, were performed on 48 of the 60 rats using a 10 g×25 mm weight-drop at the level of T10 spinal cord. Therefore, the ASCI group (n=12) included the 'laminectomy and weight-drop'. The remaining 36 ASCI model animals were subdivided into 3 groups (n=12 each group): TIIA group (30 mg/kg/day), MP group (30 mg/kg) and combined treatment group (TIIA 30mg/kg/day + MP 20 mg/kg). Neuronal function following ASCI was evaluated using the Basso Beattie Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor rating scale. Levels of the anti-apoptotic factor B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2), the pro-apoptotic factors Bcl-2 associated protein X (Bax) and caspase-3, and the inflammatory associated factor nuclear factor-κB, were analyzed by western blot analysis. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect caspase-3. To investigate the underlying mechanism, the anti-oxidative effect of combination TIIA and MP treatment was assessed by measuring the activity of malondialdehyde (MDA) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) in ASCI. In agreement with the experiment, primary neurons were prepared from the spinal cord of one-day-old Sprague-Dawley rats' and co-cultured with astrocytes from the brain cortex. The injury of neurons was induced by mechanical scratch and levels of apoptosis factors were analyzed by western blot analysis. The results of the current study indicated that injured animals in the combined treatment group exhibited a significant increase in BBB scores (P<0.05). TIIA + MP combined treatment and MP treatment was observed to reduce the expression of pro-apoptotic factors and promote neuron survivaland. Combined treatment may promote neuroprotection through reduced apoptosis and inflammation caused by ASCI, similar to MP alone. Combined treatment reversed the decrease of SOD and the increase of MDA level caused by ASCI. In addition, combined treatment decreased the expression of caspase-3 in the neurons following ASCI in rats, as indicated by immunofluorescence double labeling. Overall, the present study indicates that the combined treatment of TIIA and MP may protect the neurons by stimulating the rapid initiation of neuroprotection following ASCI and reduce the dosage of MP in the treatment of ASCI required to produce the same or improved neuroprotective effectsand.