We investigated the neuroprotective effect of tacrolimus (FK506) on the ischemia-reperfusion injury caused by transient focal brain ischemia induced by middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion for 60 min in rats. Neuronal damage visualized as a decrease of MAP2 immunoreactivity was observed in the cerebral cortex at 9 h after MCA occlusion and further expanded at 24 h. Hypoxic areas visualized with an immunohistochemical reaction for 2-nitroimidazole, a hypoxia marker (hypoxyprobe-1), and accumulation of granulocytes and platelets were also observed at 9 h and 24 h after MCA occlusion. Tacrolimus (1 mg/kg, i.v.), administered immediately after MCA occlusion, attenuated cortical damage and decreased the hypoxyprobe-1 positive area, as well as the number of granulocytes and platelets at 24 h after MCA occlusion. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that tacrolimus reduced the number of blood vessels positively stained for ICAM-1, E-selectin and P-selection. These results suggested that tacrolimus limited attachment of granulocytes and platelets to blood vessels by inhibiting the expression of adhesion molecules and protected neuronal tissue from hypoxic insults.
2007 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan