Retinoic acid (RA), a biologically active derivative of vitamin A, has protective effects against damage caused by H2O2 or oxygen-glucose deprivation in mesangial and PC12 cells. In cultured human osteosarcoma cells, RA enhances the expression of bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP7), a trophic factor that reduces ischemia- or neurotoxin-mediated neurodegeneration in vivo. The purpose of this study is to examine whether RA reduces ischemic brain injury through a BMP7 mechanism. We found that intracerebroventricular administration of 9-cis-retinoic acid (9cRA) enhanced BMP7 mRNA expression, detected by RT-PCR, in rat cerebral cortex at 24 hr after injection. Rats were also subjected to transient focal ischemia induced by ligation of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) at 1 day after 9cRA injection. Pretreatment with 9cRA increased locomotor activity and attenuated neurological deficits 2 days after MCA ligatiom 9cRA also reduced cerebral infarction and TUNEL labeling. These protective responses were antagonized by the BMP antagonist noggin given 1 day after 9cRA injection. Taken together, our data suggest that 9cRA has protective effects against ischemia-induced injury, and these effects involve BMPs.
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