Bryostatin extends tPA time window to 6 h following middle cerebral artery occlusion in aged female rats

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Background and Purpose—Blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and hemorrhagic transformation (HT) following ischemic/reperfusion injury contributes to post-stroke morbidity and mortality. Bryostatin, a potent protein kinase C (PKC) modulator, has shown promise in treating neurological injury. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that administration of bryostatin would reduce BBB disruption and HT following acute ischemic stroke; thus, prolonging the time window for administering recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (r-tPA). Methods—Acute cerebral ischemia was produced by reversible occlusion of the right middle cerebral artery (MCAO) in 18–20-month-old female rats using an autologous blood clot with delayed r-tPA reperfusion. Bryostatin (or vehicle) was administered at 2 hours post-MCAO and rtPA was administered at 6 hours post-MCAO. Functional assessment, lesion volume, and hemispheric swelling measurements were performed at 24 hours post-MCAO. Assessment of BBB permeability, measurement of hemoglobin, assessment of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) levels by gel zymography, and measurement of PKCε, PKCα, PKCδ expression by western blot were conducted at 24 hours post-MCAO. Results—Rats treated with bryostatin prior to r-tPA administration had decreased mortality and hemispheric swelling when compared with rats treated with r-tPA alone. Administration of bryostatin also limited BBB disruption and HT and down-regulated MMP-9 expression while upregulating PKCε expression at 24 hours post-MCAO. Conclusions—Bryostatin administration ameliorates BBB disruption and reduces the risk of HT by down-regulating MMP-9 activation and up-regulating PKCε. In this proof-of-concept study, bryostatin treatment lengthened the time-to-treatment window and enhanced the efficacy and safety of thrombolytic therapy.