Volume 33 (2010) Issue 11 Pages 1872-1877
Some photosensitizing cyanine dyes act on the immune system to enhance the phagocytic capacity of macrophages. In this study, we examined whether these dyes have neurotrophin-like activities and neuroprotective effects in vitro and in vivo. By screening more than 250 cyanine dyes, we found that NK-4 and NK-150, which belong to a group of pentamethine trinuclear cyanine dyes, significantly potentiated nerve growth factor (NGF)-primed neurite outgrowth of PC12HS cells in nanomolar to micromolar concentrations. Both NK-4 and NK-150 showed a remarkable hydroxyl radical-scavenging activity using an in vitro electron spin resonance (ESR)-based technique. They also effectively scavenged peroxy radicals, and in addition, NK-4 acted on superoxides to a similar extent as ascorbate. In vivo, NK-4 and NK-150 prevented cerebral ischemic injury induced by 2 h middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and 24 h reperfusion in rats. Dyes were intravenously administrated twice 1 h after the occlusion and immediately after the start of reperfusion. NK-4 and NK-150 (100 μg/kg) reduced cerebral infarct volumes by 57.0% and 46.0%, respectively. Those dyes also decreased brain swelling in the ischemic semispheres. As a result, administration of NK-4 and NK-150 provided substantial improvements in MCAO-induced neurological deficits in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that NK-4 and NK-150 effectively prevented ischemia-induced brain injury through their potent neurotrophin-like activity as well as antioxidative activity.