Sildenafil Mediates Blood-Flow Redistribution and Neuroprotection After Neonatal Hypoxia-Ischemia
Background and Purpose—The best conceivable treatment for hypoxia-ischemia (HI) is the restoration of blood flow to the hypoxic-ischemic region(s). Our objective was to examine whether boosting NO-cGMP signaling using sildenafil citrate, a phosphodiesterase-type 5 inhibitor, could modify cerebral blood flow and reduce lesions in the developing brain.
Methods—HI was induced in P7 Sprague–Dawley rats by unilateral carotid artery occlusion and hypoxia, and followed by either PBS or sildenafil. Blood-flow velocities were measured by ultrasound imaging with sequential Doppler recordings to evaluate collateral recruitment. Cell death, blood–brain barrier integrity, and glial activation were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Motor behavior was evaluated using an open-field device adapted to neonatal animals.
Results—Sildenafil citrate (10 mg/kg) induced collateral patency, reduced terminal dUTP nick-end labeling–positive cells, reactive astrogliosis, and macrophage/microglial activation at 72 hours and 7 days post-HI. Sildenafil also reduced the number of terminal dUTP nick-end labeling–positive endothelial cells within lesion site. Seven days after HI and sildenafil treatment, tissue loss was significantly reduced, and animals recovered motor coordination.
Conclusions—Our findings strongly indicate that sildenafil citrate treatment, associated with a significant increase in cerebral blood flow, reduces HI damage and improves motor locomotion in neonatal rats. Sildenafil may represent an interesting therapeutic strategy for neonatal neuroprotection.
- Received September 23, 2013.
- Accepted December 19, 2013.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.