Neuroprotection by Exogenous and Endogenous Neuregulin-1 in Mouse Models of Focal Ischemic Stroke

  • Jessica M. Noll
  • Yonggang Li
  • Timothy J. Distel
  • Gregory D. Ford
  • Byron D. FordEmail author


Identifying novel neuroprotectants that can halt or reverse the neurological effects of stroke is of interest to both clinicians and scientists. We and others previously showed the pre-clinical neuroprotective efficacy of neuregulin-1 (NRG-1) in rats following focal brain ischemia. In this study, we examined neuroprotection by exogenous and endogenous NRG-1 using a mouse model of ischemic stroke. C57BL6 mice were subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) followed by reperfusion. NRG-1 or vehicle was infused intra-arterially (i.a.) or intravenously (i.v.) after MCAO and before the onset of reperfusion. NRG-1 treatment (16 μg/kg; i.a.) reduced cerebral cortical infarct volume by 72% in mice when delivered post-ischemia. NRG-1 also inhibited neuronal injury as measured by Fluoro Jade B labeling and rescued NeuN immunoreactivity in neurons. Neuroprotection by NRG-1 was also observed in mice when administered i.v. (100 μg/kg) in both male and female mice. We investigated whether endogenous NRG-1 was neuroprotective using male and female heterozygous NRG-1 knockout mice (NRG-1+/−) compared with wild-type mice (WT) littermates. NRG-1+/− and WT mice were subjected to MCAO for 45 min, and infarct size was measured 24 h following MCAO. NRG-1+/− mice displayed a sixfold increase in cortical infarct size compared with WT mice. These results demonstrate that NRG-1 treatment mitigates neuronal damage following cerebral ischemia. We further showed that reduced endogenous NRG-1 results in exacerbated neuronal injury in vivo. These findings suggest that NRG-1 represents a promising therapy to treat stroke in human patients.


Cell death erbB receptor Ischemia Neuroprotection Inflammation Transgenic 


Funding Information

This work was supported by grants (B.D.F) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (R01NS091616, R21NS106949, R25GM119975, U54RR026137, G12RR003034, U54NS060659, and S21MD000101).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The corresponding author (B.D.F.) holds patents related to the work being reported without direct corporate involvement at the time.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of California – Riverside School of MedicineRiversideUSA
  2. 2.ICFAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Fort Valley State UniversityFort ValleyUSA

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