Levodopa Treatment Improves Functional Recovery After Experimental Stroke
Background and Purpose—Delayed treatment of patients with stroke with levodopa/benserazide contributes to enhanced functional recovery, but the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. The present study was designed to investigate if levodopa/benserazide treatment improves recovery of lost neurological function and contributes to tissue reorganization in the rat brain after stroke.
Methods—Male Wistar rats were subjected to transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (120 minutes) and treated with levodopa (1, 5, and 20 mg/kg)/benserazide (15 mg/kg) or saline for 12 consecutive days starting on Day 2 after transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. Infarct volume was determined and sensorimotor function was assessed using the rotating pole test, a 28-point neuroscore, and a cylinder test on Days 2, 7, and 14 after transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. The spatiotemporal expression pattern of dopamine-1 and dopamine-2 receptors and the dopamine- and cAMP-regulated neuronal phosphoprotein in reactive astrocytes were analyzed in the ischemic hemisphere as well as in cultured astrocytes.
Results—Treatment with levodopa/benserazide significantly improved the recovery of sensorimotor function after transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery without affecting the infarct volume. In addition, we found that different subpopulations of glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive astrocytes in the peri-infarct area express dopamine-1 receptors and dopamine-2 receptors as well as dopamine- and cAMP-regulated neuronal phosphoprotein.
Conclusions—Our results strongly corroborate the concept of recovery enhancing actions of levodopa treatment after stroke. Also, astrocytes in the peri-infarct area may contribute to the dopamine enhanced recovery mechanisms.
- Received September 12, 2011.
- Accepted October 14, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.