Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide and leads to persistent cognitive, sensory, motor dysfunction, and emotional disorders. TBI-caused primary injury results in structural damage to brain tissues. Following the primary injury, secondary injuries which are accompanied by neuroinflammation, microglial activation, and additional cell death subsequently occur. Platonin, a cyanine photosensitizing dye, has been used to treat trauma, ulcers, and some types of acute inflammation. In the present study, the neuroprotective effects of platonin against TBI were explored in a controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury model in mice. Treatment with platonin (200 μg/kg) significantly reduced the neurological severity score, general locomotor activity, and anxiety-related behavior, and improved the rotarod performance of CCI-injured mice. In addition, platonin reduced lesion volumes, the expression of cleaved caspase-3, and microglial activation in TBI-insulted brains. Platonin also suppressed messenger (m)RNA levels of caspase-3, caspase-1, cyclooxygenase-2, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, and interleukin-1β. On the other hand, free radical production after TBI was obviously attenuated in platonin-treated mice. Treatment with platonin exhibited prominent neuroprotective properties against TBI in a CCI mouse model through its anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and anti-free radical capabilities. This evidence collectively indicates that platonin may be a potential therapeutic medicine for use with TBIs.
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