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October 1989

MK-801 Prevents Hippocampal Neurodegeneration in Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Rats

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(10):1090-1096. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520460072016

• In cerebral asphyxia, enhanced postsynaptic stimulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor by excessive glutamate may mediate neuronal injury and death. The neuroprotective potential of the novel, potent NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 was assessed by evaluating hippocampal behavioral and histologic outcomes in an experimental rat model of neonatal hypoxia ischemia. Seven-dayold rats with and without MK-801 pretreatment were subjected to unilateral carotid ligation followed by 2 hours of hypoxia. At age 30 days, spontaneous alternation behavior was measured using a conventional wooden T maze. Hypoxic-ischemic animals pretreated with saline demonstrated a significant impairment in spontaneous alternation behavior compared with that of normal control rats and the hypoxic-ischemic rats pretreated with MK-801. Hippocampal neuronal damage in the CA1 and CA3 regions was prevented in animals pretreated with MK-801 vs saline-treated controls. Therefore, while saline-treated rats with hippocampal lesions showed defective memory and hippocampal neuronal destruction, pretreatment with MK-801 protected rats. Thus, MK-801 appears to protect hippocampal neurons from hypoxia /ischemia and may be potentially beneficial in preventing neonatal asphyxial brain damage.