Valproic acid attenuates blood-spinal cord barrier disruption by inhibiting matrix metalloprotease-9 activity and improves functional recovery after spinal cord injury

Jee Y Lee, Hwang S Kim, Hye Y Choi, Tae H Oh, Bong G Ju, Tae Y Yune
Journal of Neurochemistry 2012, 121 (5): 818-29
The disruption of blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) after spinal cord injury (SCI) elicits an intensive local inflammation by the infiltration of blood cells such as neutrophils and macrophages, leading to cell death and permanent neurological disability. SCI activates matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9), which is known to induce BSCB disruption. Here, we examined whether valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, would attenuate BSCB disruption by inhibiting MMP-9 activity, leading to improvement of functional outcome after SCI. After moderate spinal cord contusion injury at T9, VPA (300 mg/kg) were immediately injected subcutaneously and further injected every 12 h for 5 days. Our data show that VPA inhibited MMP-9 activity after injury, and attenuated BSCB permeability and degradation of tight junction molecules such as occludin and ZO-1. In addition, VPA reduced the expression of inflammatory mediators including tumor necrosis factor-α. Furthermore, VPA increased the levels of acetylated histone 3, pAkt, and heat-shock protein 27 and 70, which have anti-apoptotic functions after SCI. Finally, VPA inhibited apoptotic cell death and caspase 3 activation, reduced the lesion volume and improved functional recovery after injury. Thus, our results demonstrated that VPA improves functional recovery by attenuating BSCB disruption via inhibition of MMP-9 activity after SCI.

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