Neuroprotective efficacy of magnolol, 5,5′-dially-2,2′-dihydroxydiphenyl, was investigated in a model of stroke and cultured neurons exposed to glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Rats were subjected to permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). Magnolol or vehicle was administered intraperitoneally, at 1 hr pre-insult or 1-6 hrs post-insult. Brain infarction was measured upon sacrifice. Relative to controls, animals pre-treated with magnolol (50-200 mg/kg) had significant infarct volume reductions by 30.9-37.8% and improved neurobehavioral outcomes (P<0.05, respectively). Delayed treatment with magnolol (100 mg/kg) also protected against ischemic brain damage and improved neurobehavioral scores, even when administered up to 4 hrs post-insult (P<0.05, respectively). Additionally, magnolol (0.1 μM) effectively attenuated the rises of intracellular Ca2+ levels, [Ca2+](i), in cultured neurons exposed to glutamate. Consequently, magnolol (0.1-1 μM) significantly attenuated glutamate-induced cytotoxicity and cell swelling (P<0.05). Thus, magnolol offers neuroprotection against permanent focal cerebral ischemia with a therapeutic window of 4 hrs. This neuroprotection may be, partly, mediated by its ability to limit the glutamate-induced excitotoxicity.
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