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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Studies show that blocking the activation of caspases by the caspase inhibitors z-VAD.FMK and z-DEVD.FMK can reduce ischemic neuronal injury after cerebral ischemia. Because the severity of ischemia was mild in some studies, we tested the efficacy of these caspase inhibitors on moderately severe but transient forebrain and focal ischemic insults in the rat. METHODS: Various regimens of z-VAD, z-DEVD, and control DMSO were given to rats subjected to either 4-vessel occlusion ischemia (4-VO, 10-minute occlusion, 7-day survival) or distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo, 90-minute occlusion, 22.5-hour survival). In global ischemia, treatments were given immediately after ischemia (experiment 1) or as preischemic and postischemic treatments (experiment 2). Three focal ischemia experiments were done. Injection times were 60 minutes into ischemia (experiment 1) and 60 minutes into ischemia plus 30 and 120 minutes after ischemia (experiment 2). Experiment 3 was identical to experiment 2 except that a 30-minute preischemia treatment was instituted. Core normothermia was maintained in all experiments during ischemia. However, in the last focal and global experiments, core and brain temperatures, respectively, were also measured after ischemia with telemetry probes. Because hyperthermia accompanied z-DEVD treatment, an extra z-DEVD-treated group (MCAo) was included with temperature clamped at normothermia. RESULTS: Neither z-VAD nor z-DEVD significantly reduced CA1 injury after global ischemia. In focal ischemia, both drugs significantly reduced infarction, but only in the third experiment, and the prevention of hyperthermia that accompanied z-DEVD treatment did not alter this. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest a detrimental role of caspases in moderately severe focal but not global cerebral ischemia.


Journal article



Publication Date





176 - 182


Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones, Animals, Brain, Brain Ischemia, Caspases, Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors, Male, Neuroprotective Agents, Oligopeptides, Rats, Rats, Wistar