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Previously, we only apply a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Danshen-Chuanxiong-Honghua (DCH) for cardioprotection via anti-inflammation in rats of acute myocardial infarction by occluding coronary artery. Presently, we select not only DCH but also its main absorbed compound ferulic acid (FA) for cerebra protection via similar action of mechanism above in animals of the transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO). We investigated whether oral administration of DCH and FA could ameliorate MCAO-induced brain lesions in animals. By using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), we analyzed four compounds, including tanshinol, salvianolic acid B, hydroxysafflor yellow A and especially FA as the putative active components of DCH extract in the plasma, cerebrospinal fluid and injured hippocampus of rats with MCAO. In our study, it was assumed that FA played a similar neuroprotective role to DCH. We found that oral pretreatment with DCH (10 or 20 g/kg) and FA (100 mg/kg) improved neurological function and alleviated the infarct volume as well as brain edema in a dose-dependent manner. These changes were accompanied by improved ischemia-induced apoptosis and decreased the inflammatory response. Additionally, chronic treatment with DCH reversed MCAO-induced spatial cognitive deficits in a manner associated with enhanced neurogenesis and increased the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in lesions of the hippocampus. These findings suggest that DCH has the ability to recover cognitive impairment and offer neuroprotection against cerebral ischemic injury via inhibiting microenvironmental inflammation and triggering of neurogenesis in the hippocampus. FA could be one of the potential active compounds.

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