Considerable evidence has been accumulated demonstrating an important role for inflammation in ischemic brain injury and its contribution to greater cerebral damage after ischemia. Blocking the inflammatory reaction promotes neuroprotection and shows therapeutic potential for clinical treatment of ischemic brain injury. Escin, a natural mixture of triterpenoid saponin isolated from the seed of the horse chestnut, demonstrates antiedematous and anti-inflammatory effects. Here we assessed neuroprotective effects of escin with a transient global cerebral ischemia model. Global cerebral ischemia was induced by occluding both common carotid arteries and withdrawing 0.3ml of blood from the tail vein in mice. Treatment with escin was initiated 0.5h after ischemia induction and given once a day for three consecutive days. Then animals were assessed using the Morris water-maze test and step-down passive avoidance test. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, histological pathology, and expression of inflammatory genes in the hippocampus were determined. The results showed escin significantly improved learning and memory recovery and reduced hippocampal damage in the cerebral ischemic mice. However, donepezil merely improved learning and memory recovery but did not ameliorate hippocampal damage in the cerebral ischemic mice. Furthermore, we found escin significantly downregulated certain inflammatory gene expression and upregulated expression of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which was recently reported as a neuroprotective protein in the brain. Our results indicate that inhibition of inflammation and protection of hippocampal neurons by escin may be a potentially useful therapy for ischemic brain injury.
Zhang L, Fu F, Zhang X, Zhu M, Wang T, Fan H. Escin attenuates cognitive deficits and hippocampal injury after transient global cerebral ischemia in mice via regulating certain inflammatory genes. Neurochem Int. 2010 September Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Yantai University, Yantai 264005, China.