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1.  Delayed Postconditioning Protects against Focal Ischemic Brain Injury in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3851.
We and others have reported that rapid ischemic postconditioning, interrupting early reperfusion after stroke, reduces infarction in rats. However, its extremely short therapeutic time windows, from a few seconds to minutes after reperfusion, may hinder its clinical translation. Thus, in this study we explored if delayed postconditioning, which is conducted a few hours after reperfusion, offers protection against stroke.
Methods and Results
Focal ischemia was generated by 30 min occlusion of bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) combined with permanent occlusion of middle cerebral artery (MCA); delayed postconditioning was performed by repetitive, brief occlusion and release of the bilateral CCAs, or of the ipsilateral CCA alone. As a result, delayed postconditioning performed at 3h and 6h after stroke robustly reduced infarct size, with the strongest protection achieved by delayed postconditioning with 6 cycles of 15 min occlusion/15 min release of the ipsilateral CCA executed from 6h. We found that this delayed postconditioning provided long-term protection for up to two months by reducing infarction and improving outcomes of the behavioral tests; it also attenuated reduction in 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-uptake therefore improving metabolism, and reduced edema and blood brain barrier leakage. Reperfusion in ischemic stroke patients is usually achieved by tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) application, however, t-PA's side effect may worsen ischemic injury. Thus, we tested whether delayed postconditioning counteracts the exacerbating effect of t-PA. The results showed that delayed postconditioning mitigated the worsening effect of t-PA on infarction.
Delayed postconditioning reduced ischemic injury after focal ischemia, which opens a new research avenue for stroke therapy and its underlying protective mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2588536  PMID: 19066627
2.  Protection of ischemic post conditioning against transient focal ischemia-induced brain damage is associated with inhibition of neuroinflammation via modulation of TLR2 and TLR4 pathways 
Background and purpose
Ischemic postconditioning has been demonstrated to be a protective procedure to brain damage caused by transient focal ischemia/reperfusion. However, it is elusive whether the protection of postconditioning against brain damage and neuroinflammation is via regulating TLR2 and TLR4 pathways. In the present study, we examined the protection of ischemic postconditioning performed immediately prior to the recovery of cerebral blood supply on brain damage caused by various duration of ischemia and tested the hypothesis that its protection is via inhibition of neuroinflammation by modulating TLR2/TLR4 pathways.
Brain damage in rats was induced by using the middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model. Ischemic postconditioning consisting of fivecycles of ten seconds of ischemia and reperfusion was performed immediately following theischemic episode Theduration of administration of ischemic postconditioning was examined by comparing its effects on infarction volume, cerebral edema and neurological function in 2, 3, 4, 4.5and 6 hour ischemia groups. The protective mechanism of ischemic postconditioning was investigated by comparing its effects on apoptosis, production of the neurotoxic cytokine IL-1β and the transcription and expression of TLR2, TLR4 and IRAK4 in the 2 and 4.5 hour ischemia groups.
Ischemic postconditioning significantly attenuated cerebral infarction, cerebral edema and neurological dysfunction in ischemia groups of up to 4 hours duration, but not in 4.5and 6 hour ischemia groups. It also inhibited apoptosis, production of IL-1β, abnormal transcription and expression of TLR2, TLR4 and IRAK4 in the 2 hour ischemia group, but not in the 4.5 hour ischemia group.
Ischemic postconditioning protected brain damage caused by 2, 3 and 4 hours of ischemia, but not by 4.5 and 6 hours of ischemia. The protection of ischemic postconditioning is associated with its inhibition of neuroinflammation via inhibition of TLR2 and TLR4 pathways.
PMCID: PMC3908918  PMID: 24460643
Ischemic postconditioning; Cerebral ischemia/reperfusion; TLR2; TLR4; Neuroinflammation
3.  The Protective Effects of Ischemic Postconditioning against Stroke: From Rapid to Delayed and Remote Postconditioning 
The author reviews the protective effects of ischemic postconditioning, a recently emerging strategy with broad implications in the search for new treatments in stroke and myocardial ischemic injury. Ischemic postconditioning, which refers to a series of brief ischemia and reperfusion cycles applied immediately at the site of the ischemic organ after reperfusion, results in reduced infarction in both cerebral and myocardial ischemia. Conventional postconditioning induced within a few minutes after reperfusion is arbitrarily defined as rapid postconditioning. In contrast, postconditioning performed hours to days after stroke is defined as delayed postconditioning. In addition, postconditioning can be mimicked using anesthetics or other pharmacological agents as stimuli to protect against ischemia/reperfusion injury or performed in a distant organ, which is known as remote postconditioning. In this article, the author discusses the conceptual origin of classical rapid ischemic postconditioning and its evolution into a term that represents a broad range of stimuli or triggers, including delayed postconditioning, pharmacological postconditioning, and remote postconditioning. Thereafter, various in vivo and in vitro models of postconditioning and its potential protective mechanisms are discussed. Since the concept of postconditioning is so closely associated with that of preconditioning and both share some common protective mechanisms, whether a combination of preconditioning and postconditioning offers greater protection than preconditioning or postconditioning alone is also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3204606  PMID: 22053169
Postconditioning; preconditioning; stroke; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection
4.  Isoflurane postconditioning reduces ischemia-induced nuclear factor-κB activation and interleukin 1β production to provide neuroprotection in rats and mice 
Neurobiology of disease  2013;54:216-224.
Application of isoflurane, a volatile anesthetic, after brain ischemia can reduce ischemic brain injury in rodents (isoflurane postconditioning). This study is designed to determine whether isoflurane postconditioning improves long-term neurological outcome after focal brain ischemia and whether this protection is mediated by attenuating neuroinflammation. Adult male Sprague–Dawley rats were subjected to a 90-min middle cerebral arterial occlusion (MCAO). Isoflurane postconditioning was performed by exposing rats to 2% isoflurane for 60 min immediately after the MCAO. Isoflurane postconditioning reduced brain infarct volumes, apoptotic cells in the ischemic penumbral brain tissues and neurological deficits of rats at 4 weeks after the MCAO. Isoflurane postconditioning reduced brain ischemia/reperfusion-induced nuclear transcription factor (NF)-κB (NF-κB) activation as well as interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and interleukin-6 production in the ischemic penumbral brain tissues at 24 h after the MCAO. IL-1β deficient mice had smaller brain infarct volumes and better neurological functions than wild-type mice at 24 h after a 90-min focal brain ischemia. Isoflurane posttreatment failed to induce neuroprotection in the IL-1β deficient mice. Our results suggest that isoflurane postconditioning improved long-term neurological outcome after transient focal brain ischemia. This protection may be mediated by inhibiting NF-κB activation and the production of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β.
PMCID: PMC3628970  PMID: 23313315
interleukin 1β; isoflurane; neuroprotection; nuclear factor-κB; postconditioning
5.  Remote Limb Ischemic Postconditioning Protects Against Neonatal Hypoxic–Ischemic Brain Injury in Rat Pups by the Opioid Receptor/Akt Pathway 
Background and Purpose
Remote ischemic postconditoning, a phenomenon in which brief ischemic stimuli of 1 organ protect another organ against an ischemic insult, has been demonstrated to protect the myocardium and adult brain in animal models. However, mediators of the protection and underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that remote limb ischemic postconditioning applied immediately after hypoxia provides neuroprotection in a rat model of neonatal hypoxia–ischemia (HI) by mechanisms involving activation of the opioid receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.
HI was induced in postnatal Day 10 rat pups by unilateral carotid ligation and 2 hours of hypoxia. Limb ischemic postconditioning was induced by 4 conditioning cycles of 10 minutes of ischemia and reperfusion on both hind limbs immediately after HI. The opioid antagonist naloxone, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin, or opioid agonist morphine was administered to determine underlying mechanisms. Infarct volume, brain atrophy, and neurological outcomes after HI were evaluated. Expression of phosphorylated Akt, Bax, and phosphorylated ERK1/2 was determined by Western blotting.
Limb ischemic postconditioning significantly reduced infarct volume at 48 hours and improved functional outcomes at 4 weeks after HI. Naloxone and wortmannin abrogated the postconditioning-mediated infarct-limiting effect. Morphine given immediately after hypoxia also decreased infarct volume. Furthermore, limb ischemic postconditioning recovered Akt activity and decreased Bax expression, whereas no differences in phosphorylated ERK1/2expression were observed.
Limb ischemic postconditioning protects against neonatal HI brain injury in rats by activating the opioid receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3703505  PMID: 21183744
Akt; limb ischemic postconditioning; neonatal hypoxia–ischemia; opioid receptor
6.  The Akt signaling pathway contributes to postconditioning’s protection against stroke; the protection is associated with the MAPK and PKC pathways 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;105(3):943-955.
We previously reported that ischemic postconditioning with a series of mechanical interruptions of reperfusion reduced infarct volume 2 days after focal ischemia in rats. Here, we extend this data by examining long-term protection and exploring underlying mechanisms involving the Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways. Post-conditioning reduced infarct and improved behavioral function assessed 30 days after stroke. Additionally, postconditioning increased levels of phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) as measured by western blot and Akt activity as measured by an in vitro kinase assay. Inhibiting Akt activity by a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, enlarged infarct in postconditioned rats. Postconditioning did not affect protein levels of phosphorylated-phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 or -phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (molecules upstream of Akt) but did inhibit an increase in phosphorylated-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt effector. In addition, postconditioning blocked β-catenin phosphorylation subsequent to glycogen synthase kinase, but had no effect on total or non-phosphorylated active β-catenin protein levels. Furthermore, postconditioning inhibited increases in the amount of phosphorylated-c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 in the MAPK pathway. Finally, postconditioning blocked death-promoting δPKC cleavage and attenuated reduction in phosphorylation of survival-promoting εPKC. In conclusion, our data suggest that postconditioning provides long-term protection against stroke in rats. Additionally, we found that Akt activity contributes to postconditioning’s protection; furthermore, increases in εPKC activity, a survival-promoting pathway, and reductions in MAPK and δPKC activity; two putative death-promoting pathways correlate with postconditioning’s protection.
PMCID: PMC2746404  PMID: 18182053
Akt; cerebral ischemia; mitogen-activated protein kinase; postconditioning; protein kinase C; β-catenin
7.  Effect of morphine-induced postconditioning in corrections of tetralogy of fallot 
Results of previous reports on ischemic postconditioning in animals and humans were very encouraging. Although ischemic postconditioning possessed a wide prospect of clinical application, debates on the precise ischemic postconditioning algorithm to use in clinical settings were ongoing. In this regard, pharmacological strategies were possible alternative methods. Accumulating data demonstrated that pharmacological postconditioning with morphine conferred cardioprotection in animals. This trial aimed to evaluate the effect of morphine-induced postconditioning on protection against myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury in patients undergoing corrections of Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF).
Eight-nine consecutive children scheduled for corrections of TOF were enrolled and randomly assigned to either a postconditioning group (patients received a dose of morphine (0.1 mg/kg) injected via a cardioplegia needle into the aortic root for direct and focused delivery to the heart within 1 minute starting at 3 min before aorta cross-clamp removal, n=44) or a control group (the same protocol was performed as in the postconditioning group except that patients received the same volume of saline instead, n=45). The peri-operative relevant data were investigated and analyzed, and the cardiac troponin I (cTnI) was assayed preoperatively, and then 4 h, 8 h, 12 h, 24 h and 48 h after reperfusion.
Morphine-induced postconditioning reduced postoperative peak cTnI release as compared to the control group (0.57 ± 0.15 versus 0.75 ± 0.20 ng/mL, p<0.0001). Morphine-induced postconditioned patients had lower peak inotropic score (5.7 ± 2.4 versus 8.4 ± 3.6, p<0.0001) and shorter duration of mechanical ventilation as well as ICU stay (20.6 ± 6.8 versus 28.5 ± 8.3 hours, p<0.0001 and 40.4 ± 10.3 versus 57.8 ± 15.2 hours, p<0.0001, respectively), while higher left ventricular ejection fraction as well as cardiac output (0.57±0.15 versus 0.51±0.13, p=0.0467 and 1.39 ± 0.25 versus 1.24 ± 0.21 L/min, p=0.0029, respectively) as compared to the control group during the first postoperative 24 hours.
Morphine-induced postconditioning may provide enhanced cardioprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury in children undergoing corrections of TOF.
PMCID: PMC3666925  PMID: 23577699
Pharmacological postconditioning; Morphine; Ischemia reperfusion injury; Pediatric cardiac surgery; Trials
8.  Ischemic postconditioning may not influence early brain injury induced by focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion in rats 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2010;58(2):176-183.
Experimental studies have shown that ischemic postconditioning can reduce neuronal injury in the setting of cerebral ischemia, but the mechanisms are not yet clearly elucidated. This study was conducted to determine whether ischemic postconditioning can alter expression of heat shock protein 70 and reduce acute phase neuronal injury in rats subjected to transient focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion.
Focal cerebral ischemia was induced by intraluminal middle cerebral artery occlusion for 60 min in twenty male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g). Rats were randomized into control group and an ischemic postconditioning group (10 rats per group). The animals of control group had no intervention either before or after MCA occlusion. Ischemic postconditioning was elicited by 3 cycles of 30 s reperfusion interspersed by 10 s ischemia immediately after onset of reperfusion. The infarct ratios, brain edema ratios and motor behavior deficits were analyzed 24 hrs after ischemic insult. Caspase-3 reactive cells and cells showing heat shock protein 70 activity were counted in the caudoputamen and frontoparietal cortex.
Ischemic postconditiong did not reduce infarct size and brain edema ratios compared to control group. Neurologic scores were not significantly different between groups. The number of caspase-3 reactive cells in the ischemic postconditioning group was not significantly different than the value of the control group in the caudoputamen and frontoparietal cortex. The number of cells showing heat shock protein 70 activity was not significantly different than the control group, as well.
These results suggest that ischemic postconditioning may not influence the early brain damage induced by focal cerebral ischemia in rats.
PMCID: PMC2872862  PMID: 20498797
Focal cerebral ischemia; Neuroproctection; Postconditioning; Rat
9.  Protective effect of delayed remote limb ischemic postconditioning: role of mitochondrial KATP channels in a rat model of focal cerebral ischemic reperfusion injury 
Delayed remote ischemic postconditioning (DRIPost) has been shown to protect the rat brain from ischemic injury. However, extremely short therapeutic time windows hinder its translational use and the mechanism of action remains elusive. Because opening of the mitochondria KATP channel is crucial for cell apoptosis, we hypothesized that the neuroprotective effect of DRIPost may be associated with KATP channels. In the present study, the neuroprotective effects of DRIPost were investigated using adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats were exposed to 90 minutes of middle cerebral artery occlusion followed by 72 hours of reperfusion. Delayed remote ischemic postconditioning was performed with three cycles of bilateral femoral artery occlusion/reperfusion for 5 minutes at 3 or 6 hours after reperfusion. Neurologic deficit scores and infarct volumes were assessed, and cellular apoptosis was monitored by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase nick-end labeling. Our results showed that DRIPost applied at 6 hours after reperfusion exerted neuroprotective effects. The KATP opener, diazoxide, protected rat brains from ischemic injury, while the KATP blocker, 5-hydroxydecanote, reversed the neuroprotective effects of DRIPost. These findings indicate that DRIPost reduces focal cerebral ischemic injury and that the neuroprotective effects of DRIPost may be achieved through opening of KATP channels.
PMCID: PMC3345910  PMID: 22274742
brain ischemia; KATP; remote ischemic postconditioning; reperfusion injury
10.  Protection of Ischemic Postconditioning against Neuronal Apoptosis Induced by Transient Focal Ischemia Is Associated with Attenuation of NF-κB/p65 Activation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96734.
Background and Purpose
Accumulating evidences have demonstrated that nuclear factor κB/p65 plays a protective role in the protection of ischemic preconditioning and detrimental role in lethal ischemia-induced programmed cell death including apoptosis and autophagic death. However, its role in the protection of ischemic postconditioning is still unclear.
Rat MCAO model was used to produce transient focal ischemia. The procedure of ischemic postconditioning consisted of three cycles of 30 seconds reperfusion/reocclusion of MCA. The volume of cerebral infarction was measured by TTC staining and neuronal apoptosis was detected by TUNEL staining. Western blotting was used to analyze the changes in protein levels of Caspase-3, NF-κB/p65, phosphor- NF-κB/p65, IκBα, phosphor- IκBα, Noxa, Bim and Bax between rats treated with and without ischemic postconditioning. Laser scanning confocal microscopy was used to examine the distribution of NF-κB/p65 and Noxa.
Ischemic postconditioning made transient focal ischemia-induced infarct volume decrease obviously from 38.6%±5.8% to 23.5%±4.3%, and apoptosis rate reduce significantly from 46.5%±6.2 to 29.6%±5.3% at reperfusion 24 h following 2 h focal cerebral ischemia. Western blotting analysis showed that ischemic postconditioning suppressed markedly the reduction of NF-κB/p65 in cytoplasm, but elevated its content in nucleus either at reperfusion 6 h or 24 h. Moreover, the decrease of IκBα and the increase of phosphorylated IκBα and phosphorylated NF-κB/p65 at indicated reperfusion time were reversed by ischemic postconditioning. Correspondingly, proapoptotic proteins Caspase-3, cleaved Caspase-3, Noxa, Bim and Bax were all mitigated significantly by ischemic postconditioning. Confocal microscopy revealed that ischemic postconditioning not only attenuated ischemia-induced translocation of NF-κB/p65 from neuronal cytoplasm to nucleus, but also inhibited the abnormal expression of proapoptotic protein Noxa within neurons.
We demonstrated in this study that the protection of ischemic postconditioning on neuronal apoptosis caused by transient focal ischemia is associated with attenuation of the activation of NF-κB/p65 in neurons.
PMCID: PMC4011781  PMID: 24800741
11.  Isoflurane postconditioning induces neuroprotection via Akt activation and attenuation of increased mitochondrial membrane permeability 
Neuroscience  2011;199:44-50.
We have shown that isoflurane application at the onset of reperfusion (postconditioning) reduces brain ischemic injury in rats. This study was designed to determine whether this protection involved activation of prosurvival protein kinases and maintenance of normal mitochondrial membrane permeability. Two-month old male rats were subjected to a 90-min middle cerebral arterial occlusion. They then were exposed or were not exposed to 2% isoflurane for 1 h. Ischemic penumbral cerebral cortex was harvested immediately and separated into the mitochondrial and cytosolic fractions. We showed that the mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide content in the ischemic penumbral cortex was significantly reduced, suggesting an increased mitochondrial membrane permeability. This increase was partly attenuated by isoflurane postconditioning. The mitochondrial adenosine diphosphate content in the penumbral cortex was reduced no matter whether the animals were postconditioned with isoflurane. The mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate concentration was not different among various experimental conditions. The phospho-Akt in the cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions of the ischemic penumbral cortex was higher than that in the control cortex. This increase trended to be higher in animals with isoflurane postconditioning. A similar change pattern was observed in the mitochondrial phospho-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt substrate that can regulate the mitochondrial membrane permeability. Isoflurane postconditioning reduced oxygen-glucose deprivation-induced injury of rat cortical neuronal cultures and increased phospho-Akt in these cells. The isoflurane postconditioning-induced protection in the neuronal cultures was decreased by the Akt inhibitor LY294002. These results suggest that isoflurane postconditioning effects may be mediated by Akt and involve reduced mitochondrial membrane permeability.
PMCID: PMC3237819  PMID: 22040798
Akt; glycogen synthase kinase 3β; isoflurane; neuroprotection; mitochondrial membrane permeability; postconditioning
12.  Limb remote ischemic postconditioning protects against focal ischemia in rats 
Brain research  2009;1288:88-94.
Remote ischemic postconditioning (RIP) refers to an ischemia conducted in a distant organ that protects against a prior ischemia in another organ. We tested whether RIP protects against focal ischemia in the rat brain. Stroke was generated by a permanent occlusion of the left distal middle cerebral artery combined with a 30 min occlusion of the bilateral common carotid arteries (CCA) in male rats. After CCA release, RIP was generated by 3 cycles of 15 min occlusion/15 min release of the left hind femoral artery. The results showed that rapid RIP performed immediately after CCA release reduced infarction by 67% measured at 2 d after stroke. In addition, delayed RIP initiated as late as 3 h, but not 6 h, still robustly reduced infarction by 43% 2 d after stroke. RIP's protective effect was abolished by injecting the protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide, and the afferent nerve blocker, capsaicin, suggesting that RIP blocks ischemic injury by modulating protein synthesis and nerve activity. Nevertheless, rapid RIP did not reduce infarction size 2 months after stroke while it ameliorated the outcome of the behavioral test. In conclusion, RIP attenuates brain injury after focal ischemia.
PMCID: PMC2744502  PMID: 19631625
stroke; cerebral ischemia; preconditioning; remote postconditioning
13.  Cardioprotection by postconditioning in conscious rats is limited to coronary occlusions <45 min 
Brief episodes of ischemia and reperfusion after a lethal ischemic insult confer cardioprotection, a phenomenon termed “ischemic postconditioning.” However, all studies reported to date have been conducted in open-chest animal models. We sought to determine whether postconditioning occurs in conscious animals and whether it protects against severe myocardial injury.
Chronically instrumented rats were assigned to a 30- (Subset 1), 45- (Subset 2), or 60-min (Subset 3) coronary occlusion followed by 24 h of reperfusion. In each subset, rats received no further intervention (control), were preconditioned with 12 cycles of 2-min occlusion/2-min reperfusion immediately (early preconditioning; EPC) or 24 h (late preconditioning; LPC) before myocardial infarction, or were postconditioned with 20 cycles of 10-s occlusion/10-s reperfusion immediately after myocardial infarction (20-10 PostC).
With a 30-min occlusion, infarct size (54.4 ± 2.3% of risk region in control-30) was significantly reduced in EPC-30, LPC-30, and 20-10 PostC-30 groups (by 72, 70, and 47%, respectively; all P < 0.05 vs. control-30). With a 45-min occlusion, infarct size (62.2 ± 2.4% in control-45) was reduced in EPC-45 and LPC-45 groups (by 47 and 41%, respectively; all P < 0.05 vs. control-45) but not in the 20-10 PostC-45 group [55.4 ± 2.3%, P = not significant (NS) vs. control-45]. With a 60-min occlusion, infarct size (72.7 ± 2.2% in control-60) was reduced in the EPC-60 (by 20%, P < 0.05) but not in the LPC-60 (63.6 ± 2.5%, P = NS) or in the 20-20 PostC group (71.5 ± 3.4%, P = NS).
Both early and late ischemic preconditioning as well as ischemic postconditioning confer protection in conscious rats; however, unlike early preconditioning, postconditioning protects only against coronary occlusions <45 min. In the conscious rat, the cardioprotection afforded by postconditioning is limited to mild to moderate myocardial injury.
PMCID: PMC3741072  PMID: 16815986
myocardium; ischemia; infarct size; preconditioning
14.  A feasible strategy for focal cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury: remote ischemic postconditioning 
Neural Regeneration Research  2014;9(15):1460-1463.
It is difficult to control the degree of ischemic postconditioning in the brain and other ischemia-sensitive organs. Remote ischemic postconditioning could protect some ischemia-sensitive organs through measures on terminal organs. In this study, a focal cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury model was established using three cycles of remote ischemic postconditioning, each cycle consisted of 10-minute occlusion of the femoral artery and 10-minute opening. The results showed that, remote ischemic postconditioning significantly decreased the percentage of the infarct area and attenuated brain edema. In addition, inflammatory nuclear factor-κB expression was significantly lower, while anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 expression was significantly elevated in the cerebral cortex on the ischemic side. Our findings indicate that remote ischemic postconditioning attenuates focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury, and that the neuroprotective mechanism is mediated by an anti-apoptotic effect and reduction of the inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC4192948  PMID: 25317158
nerve regeneration; remote ischemic postconditioning; focal cerebral ischemia; neuroprotection; apoptosis; inflammation; brain injury; nuclear factor-κB; Bcl-2; neural regeneration
15.  From Rapid to Delayed and Remote Postconditioning: the Evolving Concept of Ischemic Postconditioning in Brain Ischemia 
Current Drug Targets  2012;13(2):173-187.
Ischemic postconditioning is a concept originally defined to contrast with that of ischemic preconditioning. While both preconditioning and postconditioning confer a neuroprotective effect on brain ischemia, preconditioning is a sublethal insult performed in advance of brain ischemia, and postconditioning, which conventionally refers to a series of brief occlusions and reperfusions of the blood vessels, is conducted after ischemia/reperfusion. In this article, we first briefly review the history of preconditioning, including the experimentation that initially uncovered its neuroprotective effects and later revealed its underlying mechanisms-of-action. We then discuss how preconditioning research evolved into that of postconditioning – a concept that now represents a broad range of stimuli or triggers, including delayed postconditioning, pharmacological postconditioning, remote postconditioning – and its underlying protective mechanisms involving the Akt, MAPK, PKC and KATP channel cell-signaling pathways. Because the concept of postconditioning is so closely associated with that of preconditioning, and both share some common protective mechanisms, we also discuss whether a combination of preconditioning and postconditioning offers greater protection than preconditioning or postconditioning alone.
PMCID: PMC3346695  PMID: 22204317
postconditioning; preconditioning; stroke; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection
Brain research  2010;1358:184-190.
The volatile anesthetic isoflurane is capable of inducing preconditioning and postconditioning effects in the brain. However, the mechanisms for these neuroprotective effects are not fully understood. Here, we showed that rat hippocampal neuronal cultures exposed to 2% isoflurane for 30 min at 24 h before a 1-h oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) and a 24-h simulated reperfusion had a reduced lactate dehydrogenase release. Similarly, this OGD and simulated reperfusion-induced lactate dehydrogenase release was attenuated by exposing the neuronal cultures to 2% isoflurane for 1 h at various times after the onset of the simulated reperfusion (isoflurane postconditioning). The combination of isoflurane preconditioning and postconditioning induced a better neuroprotection than either alone. Inhibition of the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), inhibition of N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, or activation of adenosine A2A receptors resulted in reduction of the OGD and simulated reperfusion-induced cell injury. The combination of CaMKII inhibition and isoflurane preconditioning or postconditioning did not provide better protection than CaMKII inhibition, isoflurane preconditioning, or isoflurane postconditioning alone. The combination of NMDA receptor inhibition and isoflurane postconditioning was not better than NMDA receptor inhibition or isoflurane postconditioning alone for neuroprotection. However, the combination of adenosine A2A receptor activation with either isoflurane preconditioning or isoflurane postconditioning induced a better neuroprotective effect than adenosine A2A receptor activation, isoflurane preconditioning, or isoflurane postconditioning alone. The combination of NMDA receptor inhibition and isoflurane preconditioning caused a better neuroprotective effect than NMDA receptor inhibition or isoflurane preconditioning alone. These results suggest that isoflurane preconditioning- and postconditioning-induced neuroprotection can be additive. Isoflurane preconditioning and isoflurane postconditioning may involve CaMKII inhibition, but may not involve adenosine A2A receptor activation. Inhibition of NMDA receptors may mediate the effects of isoflurane postconditioning, but not isoflurane preconditioning.
PMCID: PMC2949531  PMID: 20709037
calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II; isoflurane; neuron; preconditioning; postconditioning
17.  Neuroprotective Effects of Ischemic Preconditioning and Postconditioning on Global Brain Ischemia in Rats through the Same Effect on Inhibition of Apoptosis 
Transient forebrain or global ischemia induces neuronal death in vulnerable CA1 pyramidal cells with many features. A brief period of ischemia, i.e., ischemic preconditioning, or a modified reperfusion such as ischemic postconditioning, can afford robust protection of CA1 neurons against ischemic challenge. Therefore, we investigated the effect of ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning on neural cell apoptosis in rats. The result showed that both ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning may attenuate the neural cell death and DNA fragment in the hippocampal CA1 region. Further western blot study suggested that ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning down-regulates the protein of cleaved caspase-3, caspase-6, caspase-9 and Bax, but up-regulates the protein Bcl-2. These findings suggest that ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning have a neuroprotective role on global brain ischemia in rats through the same effect on inhibition of apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3382765  PMID: 22754351
brain ischemic injury; ischemic preconditioning; ischemic postconditioning; apoptosis; neuroprotection
18.  Expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase in muscle flaps treated with ischemic postconditioning 
Hand (New York, N.Y.)  2012;7(3):297-302.
Preconditioning has been considered promising for the treatment of ischemic flaps. In this study, the therapeutic effect of postconditioning was compared with that of preconditioning during ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury, and a role of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in postconditioning treatment was also explored.
Sixty rats were randomly divided into four groups with 15 rats in each group. Ischemic injury was induced in a rat’s gracilis muscle flap model. Preconditioning and postconditioning were performed respectively on the flaps in the pre-con group and the post-con group. No treatment was given to the flaps in the control group, and flaps without I/R injury were used as a sham control. Muscle viability ratio, histology, and gene expression of iNOS were examined at different time intervals (3, 12, and 18 h).
A significantly higher survival ratio was observed in both the pre-con group (78.98 ± 3.39, 62.74 ± 3.7, and 54.42 ± 4.45 %) and the post-con group (77.42 ± 4.14, 59.74 ± 6.67, and 49.52 ± 4.13 %) than the control group (45.22 ± 3.69, 42.44 ± 3.76, and 33.2 ± 3.29 %) at 3, 12, and 18 h postoperatively (P < 0.05). There was no statistical difference between the pre-con group and the post-con group (P > 0.05). Histological examination showed delayed and attenuated tissue damage in both the pre-con group and the post-con group when compared to that of the control group. A higher expression of iNOS was observed in both the pre-con group and the post-con group than the control group and the sham group (P < 0.05).
Significant improvement of flap survival could be achieved by both preconditioning and postconditioning treatments; however, better protection could be provided by preconditioning. The higher expression of iNOS may play an important role in the therapeutic effect of postconditioning during I/R injury.
PMCID: PMC3418363  PMID: 23997736
Ischemic postconditioning; Ischemic preconditioning; Ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury; Inducible nitric oxide synthase
19.  Postconditioning in major vascular surgery: prevention of renal failure 
Postconditioning is a novel reperfusion technique to reduce ischemia-reperfusion injuries. The aim of the study was to investigate this method in an animal model of lower limb revascularization for purpose of preventing postoperative renal failure.
Bilateral lower limb ischemia was induced in male Wistar rats for 3 hours by infrarenal aorta clamping under narcosis. Revascularization was allowed by declamping the aorta. Postconditioning (additional 10 sec reocclusion, 10 sec reperfusion in 6 cycles) was induced at the onset of revascularization. Myocyte injury and renal function changes were assessed 4, 24 and 72 hours postoperatively. Hemodynamic monitoring was performed by invasive arterial blood pressure registering and a kidney surface laser Doppler flowmeter.
Muscle viability studies showed no significant improvement with the use of postconditioning in terms of ischemic rhabdomyolysis (4 h: ischemia-reperfusion (IR) group: 42.93 ± 19.20% vs. postconditioned (PostC) group: 43.27 ± 27.13%). At the same time, renal functional laboratory tests and kidney myoglobin immunohistochemistry demonstrated significantly less expressed kidney injury in postconditioned animals (renal failure index: 4 h: IR: 2.37 ± 1.43 mM vs. PostC: 0.92 ± 0.32 mM; 24 h: IR: 1.53 ± 0.45 mM vs. PostC: 0.77 ± 0.34 mM; 72 h: IR: 1.51 ± 0.36 mM vs. PostC: 0.43 ± 0.28 mM), while systemic hemodynamics and kidney microcirculation significantly improved (calculated reperfusion area: IR: 82.31 ± 12.23% vs. PostC: 99.01 ± 2.76%), and arterial blood gas analysis showed a lesser extent systemic acidic load after revascularization (a defined relative base excess parameter: 1st s: IR: 2.25 ± 1.14 vs. PostC: 1.80 ± 0.66; 2nd s: IR: 2.14 ± 1.44 vs. PostC: 2.44 ± 1.14, 3rd s: IR: 3.99 ± 3.09 vs. PostC: 2.07 ± 0.82; 4th s: IR: 3.28 ± 0.32 vs. PostC: 2.05 ± 0.56).
The results suggest a protective role for postconditioning in major vascular surgeries against renal complications through a possible alternative release of nephrotoxic agents and exerting a positive effect on hemodynamic stability.
PMCID: PMC4314807  PMID: 25622967
Myoglobinuria; Postconditioning; Renal microcirculation; HSP72
20.  Ischemic Postconditioning Decreases Cerebral Edema and Brain Blood Barrier Disruption Caused by Relief of Carotid Stenosis in a Rat Model of Cerebral Hypoperfusion 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57869.
Background and Purpose
Complications due to brain edema and breakdown of blood brain barrier are an important factor affecting the treatment effects of patients with severe carotid stenosis. In this study, we investigated the protective effects of ischemic postconditioning on brain edema and disruption of blood brain barrier via establishing rat model of hypoperfusion due to severe carotid stenosis.
Wistar rat model of hypoperfusion due to severe carotid stenosis was established by binding a stainless microtube to both carotid arteries. Ischemic postconditioning procedure consisted of three cycles of 30 seconds ischemia and 30 seconds reperfusion. Brain edema was evaluated by measuring cerebral water content, and blood brain barrier permeability was assayed by examining cerebral concentration of Evans' Blue (EB) and fluorescein sodium (NaF). ELISA was used to analyze the expression of MMP-9, claudin-5 and occludin. The activity and location of MMP-9 was analyzed by gelatin zymography and in situ zymography, respectively. The distribution of tight junction proteins claudin-5 and occludin was observed by immunohistochemistry.
The increased brain water content and cerebral concentration of EB and NaF were suppressed by administration of ischemic postconditioning prior to relief of carotid stenosis. Zymographic studies showed that MMP-9 was mainly located in the cortex and its activity was significantly improved by relief of carotid stenosis and, but the elevated MMP-9 activity was inhibited markedly by ischemic postconditioning. Immunohistochemistry revealed that ischemic postconditioning improved the discontinuous distribution of claudin-5 and occludin. ELISA detected that the expression of up-regulated MMP-9 and down-regulated claudin-5 and occludin caused by carotid relief were all attenuated by ischemic postconditioning.
Ischemic postconditioning is an effective method to prevent brain edema and improve BBB permeability and could be used during relief of severe carotid stenosis.
PMCID: PMC3585273  PMID: 23469092
21.  HIF-1α Mediates Isoflurane-Induced Vascular Protection in Subarachnoid Hemorrhage 
Outcome after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) depends critically on delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) – a process driven primarily by vascular events including cerebral vasospasm, microvessel thrombosis, and microvascular dysfunction. This study sought to determine the impact of postconditioning – the phenomenon whereby endogenous protection against severe injury is enhanced by subsequent exposure to a mild stressor – on SAH-induced DCI.
Adult male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to sham, SAH, or SAH plus isoflurane postconditioning. Neurological outcome was assessed daily via sensorimotor scoring. Contributors to DCI including cerebral vasospasm, microvessel thrombosis, and microvascular dysfunction were measured 3 days later. Isoflurane-induced changes in hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha (HIF-1α)-dependent genes were assessed via quantitative polymerase chain reaction. HIF-1α was inhibited pharmacologically via 2-methoxyestradiol (2ME2) or genetically via endothelial cell HIF-1α-null mice (EC-HIF-1α-null). All experiments were performed in a randomized and blinded fashion.
Isoflurane postconditioning initiated at clinically relevant time points after SAH significantly reduced cerebral vasospasm, microvessel thrombosis, microvascular dysfunction, and neurological deficits in wild-type (WT) mice. Isoflurane modulated HIF-1α-dependent genes – changes that were abolished in 2ME2-treated WT mice and EC-HIF-1α-null mice. Isoflurane-induced DCI protection was attenuated in 2ME2-treated WT mice and EC-HIF-1α-null mice.
Isoflurane postconditioning provides strong HIF-1α-mediated macro- and microvascular protection in SAH, leading to improved neurological outcome. These results implicate cerebral vessels as a key target for the brain protection afforded by isoflurane postconditioning, and HIF-1α as a critical mediator of this vascular protection. They also identify isoflurane postconditioning as a promising novel therapeutic for SAH.
PMCID: PMC4402079  PMID: 25909079
22.  Neuroprotective Consequences of Postconditioning on Embolic Model of Cerebral Ischemia in Rat 
Objective(s): It has been reported that ischemic postconditioning, conducted by a series of brief occlusion and release of the bilateral common carotid arteries, confers neuroprotection in permanent or transient models of stroke. However, consequences of postconditioning on embolic stroke have not yet been investigated.
Materials and Methods: In the present study, rats were subjected to embolic stroke (n=30) or sham stroke (n=5). Stroke animals were divided into control (n=10) or three different patterns of postconditioning treatments (n=20). In the first pattern of postconditioning (PC10, n=10), the common carotid arteries (CCA) were occluded and reopened 10 and 30 sec, respectively for 5 cycles. Both occluding and releasing times in pattern 2 (PC30, n=5) and 3 (PC60, N=5) of postconditionings, were five cycles of 30 or 60 sec, respectively. Postconditioning was induced at 30 min following the stroke. Subsequently, cerebral blood flow (CBF) was measured from 5 min before to 60 min following to stroke induction. Infarct size, brain edema and neurological deficits and reactive oxygen species (ROS) level was measured two days later.
Results: While PC10 (P<0.001), PC30 and PC60 (P<0.05) significantly decreased infarct volume, only PC10 decreased brain edema and neurological deficits (P<0.05). Correspondingly, PC10 prevented the hyperemia of brain at 35, 40, 50 and 60 min after the embolic stroke (P<0.005). No significant difference in ROS level was observed between PC10 and control group.
Conclusion: Ischemic postconditioning reduces infarct volume and brain edema, decreases hyperemia following to injury and improves neurological functions after the embolic model of stroke.
PMCID: PMC3843857  PMID: 24298382
23.  The NCX3 isoform of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger contributes to neuroprotection elicited by ischemic postconditioning 
It has been recently shown that a short sublethal brain ischemia subsequent to a prolonged harmful ischemic episode may confer ischemic neuroprotection, a phenomenon termed ischemic postconditioning. Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) isoforms, NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3, are plasma membrane ionic transporters widely distributed in the brain and involved in the control of Na+ and Ca2+ homeostasis and in the progression of stroke damage. The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of these three proteins in the postconditioning-induced neuroprotection. The NCX protein and mRNA expression was evaluated at different time points in the ischemic temporoparietal cortex of rats subjected to tMCAO alone or to tMCAO plus ischemic postconditioning. The results of this study showed that NCX3 protein and ncx3 mRNA were upregulated in those brain regions protected by postconditioning treatment. These changes in NCX3 expression were mediated by the phosphorylated form of the ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine protein kinase p-AKT, as the p-AKT inhibition prevented NCX3 upregulation. The relevant role of NCX3 during postconditioning was further confirmed by results showing that NCX3 silencing, induced by intracerebroventricular infusion of small interfering RNA (siRNA), partially reverted the postconditioning-induced neuroprotection. The results of this study support the idea that the enhancement of NCX3 expression and activity might represent a reasonable strategy to reduce the infarct extension after stroke.
PMCID: PMC3049459  PMID: 20628398
AKT; NCX; neuroprotection; postconditioning; sodium/calcium exchanger
24.  Ischemic postconditioning facilitates brain recovery after stroke by promoting Akt/mTOR activity in nude rats 
Journal of neurochemistry  2013;127(5):723-732.
While preconditioning is induced before stroke onset, ischemic postconditioning (IPostC) is performed after reperfusion, which typically refers to a series of mechanical interruption of blood reperfusion after stroke. IPostC is known to reduce infarction in wild type animals. We investigated if IPostC protects against brain injury induced by focal ischemia in T-cell-deficient nude rats and to examine its effects on Akt and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Although IPostC reduced infarct size at 2 days post-stroke in wild type rats, it did not attenuate infarction in nude rats. Despite the unaltered infarct size in nude rats, IPostC increased levels of phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) and Akt isoforms (Akt1, Akt2, Akt3), and p-mTOR, p-S6K and p-4EBP1 in the mTOR pathway, as well as GAP-43, both in the peri-infarct area and core, 24 hours after stroke. IPostC improved neurological function in nude rats 1–30 days after stroke and reduced the extent of brain damage 30 days after stroke. The mTOR inhibitor rapamycin abolished the long-term protective effects of IPostC. We determined that IPostC did not inhibit acute infarction in nude rats but did provide long-term protection by enhancing Akt and mTOR activity during the acute post-stroke phase.
PMCID: PMC3875603  PMID: 23777415
Stroke; Ischemic postconditioning; T cells; Akt; mTOR
25.  Effects of ischemic pre- and postconditioning on HIF-1α, VEGF and TGF-β expression after warm ischemia and reperfusion in the rat liver 
Ischemic pre- and postconditioning protects the liver against ischemia/reperfusion injuries. The aim of the present study was to examine how ischemic pre- and postconditioning affects gene expression of hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) in liver tissue.
28 rats were randomized into five groups: control; ischemia/reperfusion; ischemic preconditioning (IPC); ischemic postconditioning (IPO); combined IPC and IPO. IPC consisted of 10 min of ischemia and 10 min of reperfusion. IPO consisted of three cycles of 30 sec. reperfusion and 30 sec. of ischemia.
HIF-1α mRNA expression was significantly increased after liver ischemia compared to controls (p = 0.010). HIF-1α mRNA expression was significantly lower in groups subjected to IPC or combined IPC and IPO when compared to the ischemia/reperfusion group (p = 0.002). VEGF-A mRNA expression increased in the ischemia/reperfusion or combined IPC and IPO groups when compared to the control group (p < 0.05).
Ischemic conditioning seems to prevent HIF-1α mRNA induction in the rat liver after ischemia and reperfusion. This suggests that the protective effects of ischemic conditioning do not involve the HIF-1 system. On the other hand, the magnitude of the HIF-1α response might be a marker for the degree of I/R injuries after liver ischemia. Further studies are needed to clarify this issue.
PMCID: PMC3155899  PMID: 21771288

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