Rosmarinic acid elicits neuroprotection in ischemic strokeNrf2 and heme oxygenase 1 signaling.
Neural Regen Res. 2018 Dec ;13(12):2119-2128. PMID: 30323140
Rosmarinic acid (RA) can elicit a neuroprotective effect against ischemic stroke, but the precise molecular mechanism remains poorly understood. In this study, an experimental ischemic stroke model was established in CD-1 mice (Beijing Vital River Laboratory Animal Technology, Beijing, China) by occluding the right middle cerebral artery for 1 hour and allowing reperfusion for 24 hours. After intraperitoneally injecting model mice with 10, 20, or 40 mg/kg RA, functional neurological deficits were evaluated using modified Longa scores. Subsequently, cerebral infarct volume was measured using TTC staining and ischemic brain tissue was examined for cell apoptosis with TUNEL staining. Superoxide dismutase activity and malondialdehyde levels were measured by spectrophometry. Expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), Bcl-2, Bax, Akt, and phospho-Ser473 Akt proteins in ischemic brain tissue was detected by western blot, while mRNA levels of Nrf2, HO-1, Bcl-2, and Bax were analyzed using real time quantitative PCR. In addition, HO-1 enzyme activity was measured spectrophotometrically. RA (20 and 40 mg/kg) greatly improved neurological function, reduced infarct volume, decreased cell apoptosis, upregulated Bcl-2 protein and mRNA expression, downregulated Bax protein and mRNA expression, increased HO-1 and Nrf2 protein and mRNA expression, increased superoxide dismutase activity, and decreased malondialdehyde levels in ischemic brain tissue of model mice. However, intraperitoneal injection of a HO-1 inhibitor (10 mg/kg zinc protoporphyrin IX) reversed the neuroprotective effects of RA on HO-1 enzyme activity and Bcl-2 and Bax protein expression. The PI3K/Akt signaling pathway inhibitor LY294002 (10 mM) inhibited Akt phosphorylation, as well as Nrf2 and HO-1 expression. Our findings suggest that RA has anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic properties that protect against ischemic stroke by a mechanism involving upregulation of Nrf2 and HO-1 expression via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.