Preinjury administration of the calpain inhibitor MDL-28170 attenuates traumatically induced axonal injury

A. Buki, O. Farkas, T. Doczi, J. T. Povlishock

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) evokes diffuse (traumatic) axonal injury (TAI), which contributes to morbidity and mortality. Damaged axons display progressive alterations gradually evolving to axonal disconnection. In severe TAI, the tensile forces of injury lead to a focal influx of Ca2+, initiating a series of proteolytic processes wherein the cysteine proteases, calpain and caspase modify the axonal cytoskeleton, causing irreversible damage over time postinjury. Although several studies have demonstrated that the systemic administration of calpain inhibitors reduces the extent of ischemic and traumatic contusional injury a direct beneficial effect on TAI has not been established to date. The current study was initiated to address this issue in an impact acceleration rat-TBI model in order to provide further evidence on the contribution of calpain-mediated proteolytic processes in the pathogenesis of TAI, while further supporting the utility of calpain-inhibitors. A single tail vein bolus injection of 30 mg/kg MDL-28170 was administered to Wistar rats 30 min preinjury. After injury the rats were allowed to survive 120 min when they were perfused with aldehydes. Brains were processed for immunohistochemical localization of damaged axonal profiles displaying either amyloid precursor protein (APP)- or RMO-14-immunoreactivity (IR), both considered markers of specific features of TAI. Digital data acquisition and statistical analysis demonstrated that preinjury administration of MDL-28170 significantly reduced the mean number of damaged RMO-14- as well as APP-IR axonal profiles in the brainstem fiber tracts analyzed. These results further underscore the role of calpain-mediated proteolytic processes in the pathogenesis of DAI and support the potential use of cell permeable calpain-inhibitors as a rational therapeutic approach in TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2003



  • Axonal injury
  • Calpain
  • MDL-28170
  • Spectrin
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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