Focal cerebral ischemia activates the nuclear protein poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) is a flavoprotein that is normally confined to the mitochondria, but translocates to the nucleus, as shown by in vitro models of neuronal injury. Using INO-1001, a novel potent inhibitor of PARP, we determined the role of PARP activation in the process of AIF translocation in a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia. The potency of INO-1001 as a PARP inhibitor and its cytoprotective potential in oxidant-challenged human neuronal SK-N-MC cells was first confirmed in vitro. PARP inhibition markedly reduced infarct size and improved neurological status in both transient and permanent models of MCA occlusion in Sprague-Dawley rats, with a therapeutic window of 6 h and 2 h in the transient and permanent ischemia models, respectively. The PARP inhibitor reduced the accumulation of poly(ADP-ribose) in the ischemic/reperfused hemisphere and reduced the accumulation of APP in the white matter of the affected hemisphere, consistently with protection against neuronal necrosis and axonal damage, respectively. Immunohistochemical analysis showed the appearance of AIF labeling in neuronal nuclei of the border zone ischemic area in the striatum after stroke. Cytoplasmatic (axonal) AIF staining was significantly diminished in the necrotic core of the striatum, while it was somewhat enhanced at the borderline ischemic territories of the white matter. Inhibition of PARP with INO-1001 reshifted the location of the apoptotic marker to the axons in the ipsilateral striatum. Thus, PARP inhibition is neuroprotective and regulates the ischemic nuclear translocation of AIF in stroke.
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