BioScience Trends. 2016;10(4):288-293. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2016.01062)

Effect of lycopene on the blood-spinal cord barrier after spinal cord injury in mice.

Zhang Q, Wang JB, Gu ZS, Zhang Q, Zheng H


The current study aimed to investigate the effect of lycopene on the blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) after spinal cord injury (SCI) in a mouse model. Lycopene inhibited lipid peroxidation and oxidative DNA damage as a highly efficient antioxidant and free radical scavenger. Lycopene (4 mg/kg/d) was administrated immediately following SCI. The permeability of the BSCB and water content in the spinal cord tissue were evaluated. Additionally, levels of expression of tight junction proteins and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were determined with Western blotting. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay analysis of spinal cord tissue homogenates was performed 48 h after SCI to evaluate the expression of inflammationrelated cytokines. In addition, recovery of motor function was assessed 1 d, 2 d, 5 d, 10 d, and 15 d after SCI using the Basso Mouse Scale to score locomotion. Compared to the group with an untreated SCI, mice with an SCI treated with lycopene had significantly reduced spinal cord tissue water content and BSCB permeability. Furthermore, motor function of mice with an SCI was also greatly improved by lycopene administration. The expression of the proinflammatory factors TNF-α and NF-kB increased markedly 48 h after SCI, and their upregulation was significantly attenuated by lycopene treatment. The expression of molecules that protect tight junctions, zonula occluden-1 and claudin-5, was upregulated by lycopene treatment after SCI. Taken together, these results clearly indicate that lycopene attenuated SCI by promoting repair of the damaged BSCB, so lycopene is a novel and promising treatment for SCI in humans.

KEYWORDS: Lycopene, spinal cord injury, blood-spinal cord barrier, tight junction

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