Comparative neuroprotective effects of preischemic PACAP and VIP administration in permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery in rats.

OBJECTIVES: Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) belong to the same peptide family, and both neuropeptides have been shown to exert in vitro and in vivo neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects. The aim of the present study was to investigate and compare the protective effects of PACAP and VIP in permanent focal cerebral ischemia in rats. The effect on the progression of the cerebral infarct was also studied.

METHOD: Male rats were injected 450 pmol PACAP or VIP dissolved in physiological saline intracerebroventricularly, preceding the occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. Control animals received vehicle treatment. Permanent focal ischemia was induced by the intraluminal filament occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. Animals were sacrificed 12 or 24 hours after the onset of ischemia, and infarcted brain areas were determined by staining bran sections with triphenyl-tetrazolium chloride.

RESULTS: Twelve hours after ischemia, the infarcted brain volume resulted to be 14.8% in the control group, 15.3% in the VIP-treated group and 5.8% in the PACAP-treated animals. Twenty-four hours after middle cerebral artery occlusion, the infarcted brain volumes were 21.5%, 20.7% and 14.3% in the control, VIP and PACAP-treated animals, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Our results provide further evidence for the neuroprotective effects of PACAP38 as given in form of a preischemic bolus. It slows down the progression of the evolution of the infarct and reduces the final infarct size. In contrast, a related peptide, VIP, does not have neuroprotective effects under the same experimental conditions.

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