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The combination of astragalus membranaceus and ligustrazine ameliorates micro-haemorrhage by maintaining blood-brain barrier integrity in cerebrally ischaemic rats

Jun Cai, Ruihuan Pan, Xiang Jia, Yue Li, Zijun Hou, Run-Yue Huang, Xin Chen, Shengping Huang, Guo-Yuan Yang, Jingbo Sun, Yan Huang
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2014 December 2, 158 Pt A: 301-9
25456435

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Haemorrhagic transformation is an asymptomatic event that frequently occurs after following ischaemic stroke, particularly when pharmaceutical thrombolysis is used. However, the mechanism responsible for haemorrhagic transformation remains unknown, and therapeutics have not been identified. In this study, we administered a combination of astragalus membranaceus and ligustrazine to rats with cerebral ischaemia that had undergone thrombolysis. We analysed the effect of this combination on the attenuation of haemorrhagic transformation and the maintenance of blood-brain barrier integrity.

METHODS: A rat model of focal cerebral ischaemia was induced with autologous blood clot injections. Thrombolysis was performed via the intravenous injection of rt-PA. Astragalus membranaceus, ligustrazine or a combination of Astragalus membranaceus and ligustrazine was administered immediately after the clot injection. The cerebral infarct area, neurological deficits, blood-brain barrier integrity, and cerebral haemorrhage status were determined after 3, 6 and 24h of ischaemia. The ultrastructure of the blood-brain barrier was examined with a transmission electron microscope. The expression of tight junction proteins, including claudin-1, claudin-5, occludin, and zonula occludens-1, and matrix metallopeptidase-9 activation was further evaluated in terms of their roles in the protective effects of the combination drug on the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

RESULTS: Ischaemia-induced Evans blue leakage and cerebral haemorrhage were markedly reduced in the combination drug-treated rats compared to the rats treated with either astragalus membranaceus or ligustrazine alone (p<0.05). The disruption of the ultrastructure of the blood-brain barrier and the neurological deficits were ameliorated by the combination treatment (p<0.05). The reductions in the expression of laudin-1, claudin-5, occludin, and ZO-1 were smaller in the rats that received the combination treatment. In addition, MMP-9 activity was suppressed in the combination-treated rats compared to the controls (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with a combination of astragalus membranaceus and ligustrazine alleviated ischaemia-induced micro-haemorrhage transformation by maintaining the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

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