Backgrounds: Early brain injury (EBI) plays a key role in the pathogenesis of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Neuronal apoptosis is involved in the pathological process of EBI. Hydrogen can inhibit neuronal apoptosis and attenuate EBI following SAH. However, the molecular mechanism underlying hydrogen-mediated anti-apoptotic effects in SAH has not been elucidated. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate whether hydrogen alleviates EBI after SAH, specifically neuronal apoptosis, partially via the Akt/GSK3β signaling pathway. Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 85) were randomly divided into the following groups: sham group (n = 17), SAH group (n = 17), SAH + saline group (n = 17), SAH + hydrogen-rich saline (HS) group (n = 17) and SAH + HS + Ly294002 (n = 17) group. HS or an equal volume of physiological saline was administered immediately after surgery and repeated 8 hours later. The PI3K inhibitor, Ly294002, was applied to manipulate the proposed pathway. Neurological score and SAH grade were assessed at 24 hours after SAH. Western blot was used for the quantification of Akt, pAkt, GSK3β, pGSK3β, Bcl-2, Bax and cleaved caspase-3 proteins. Neuronal apoptosis was identified by double staining of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining and NeuN, and quantified by apoptosis index. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescent double-labeling staining was performed to clarify the relationships between neuronal apoptosis and pAkt or pGSK3β. Results: HS significantly reduced neuronal apoptosis and improved neurological function at 24 hours after SAH. The levels of pAkt and pGSK3β, mainly expressed in neurons, were markedly up-regulated. Additionally, Bcl-2 was significantly increased while Bax and cleaved caspase-3 was decreased by HS treatment. Double staining of pAkt and TUNEL showed few colocalization of pAkt-positive cells and TUNEL-positive cells. The inhibitor of PI3K, Ly294002, suppressed the beneficial effects of HS. Conclusions: HS could attenuate neuronal apoptosis in EBI and improve the neurofunctional outcome after SAH, partially via the Akt/GSK3β pathway.
Early brain injury (EBI), highlighted with inflammation and apoptosis, occurring within 72 h after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), is associated with the prognosis of SAH. Recent studies have revealed that hydrogen-rich saline (HS) exerted multiple neuroprotective properties in many neurological diseases including SAH, involved to anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic effect. We have previously reported that HS could attenuate neuronal apoptosis as well as vasospasm. However, the underlying mechanism of HS on inflammation in SAH-induced EBI remains unclear. In this study, we explored the influence of HS on nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway and nucleotide binding and oligomerization domain-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome at early stage after SAH, by injecting HS intraperitoneally to SAH rats. One hundred and twenty-nine SD rats were randomly divided into four groups: sham group, SAH group, SAH+vehicle group, and SAH+HS group. SAH model was conducted using endovascular perforation method; all rats were sacrificed at 24 h after SAH. Protein level of pIκBα, cytosolic and nuclear p65, NLRP3, apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (ASC), caspase-1, interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and cleaved caspase-3 were measured by western blot. mRNA level of IL-1β, interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-c (TNF-α) were evaluated by RT-PCR. Cellular injury and death was detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and Nissl staining, respectively. Our results showed that pIκBα, nuclear p65, NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, IL-1β, cleaved caspase-3 proteins, as well as the mRNA of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-ɑ increased at 24 h after SAH, while cytosolic p65 decreased. TUNEL and Nissl staining presented severe cellular injury at 24 h post-SAH. However, after HS administration, the changes mentioned above were reversed. In conclusion, HS may inhibit inflammation in EBI and improve neurobehavioral outcome after SAH, partially via inactivation of NF-κB pathway and NLRP3 inflammasome. Graphical Abstract Schematic representation of the mechanism of HS-mediated anti-inflammatory effect in EBI after SAH. The NF-κB inflammatory pathway and NLRP3 inflammasome are involved in the anti-neuroinflammatory effect of HS post-SAH. SAH-induced oxidative stress enhances the activation of NF-κB, thus promoting the translocation of p65 subunit into nucleus and increasing the mRNA level of its downstream proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IN-6, TNF-α) and NLRP3. Elevated expression of NLRP3 mRNA increases the assembly of NLRP3 inflammasome. In addition, oxidative stress after SAH stimulates the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome, therefore, promoting caspase-1 activation and the cleavage of pro-IL-1β into mature IL-1β. Finally, activation of NF-κB pathway and NLRP3 inflammasome contribute to the inflammation response and cellular injury in EBI after SAH. HS treatment reversed the detrimental effect mentioned above via inactivation of NF-κB pathway and NLRP3 inflammasome. NF-κB nuclear factor-κB, IκB inhibitor of NF-κB, IKK Iκ kinase, NLRP3 nucleotide binding and oligomerization domain-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing 3, ASC apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain