Glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity is a major cause of ischemic brain damage. MK-801 confers neuroprotection by attenuating the activation of the N
-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, but it failed in clinical use due to the short therapeutic window. Here we aim to investigate the effects of maslinic acid, a natural product from Olea europaea
, on the therapeutic time window and dose range for the neuroprotection of MK-801. Rats were administered with maslinic acid intracerebroventricularly and cerebral ischemia was induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) followed by reperfusion. MK-801 was administered at 1 h, 2 h, 3 h and 4 h after ischemia, respectively. The cerebral infarct volume was determined by 2,3,5-Triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining, neuronal damage was assessed by Haematoxylin Eosin (H&E) staining, and the expression of glial glutamate transporters and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot post-ischemia. Results showed that the presence of maslinic acid extended the therapeutic time window for MK-801 from 1 h to 3 h. Co-treatment of maslinic acid and MK-801 at a subthreshold dosage obviously induced neuroprotection after ischemia. The combination of these two compounds improved the outcome in ischemic rats. Moreover, maslinic acid treatment promoted the expression of GLT-1 and GFAP post-ischemia. These data suggest that the synergistic effect of maslinic acid on neurological protection might be associated with the improvement of glial function, especially with the increased expression of GLT-1. The combination therapy of maslinic acid and MK-801 may prove to be a potential strategy for treating acute ischemic stroke.
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