Neuroprotective effects of alpha-lipoic acid on radiation-induced brainstem injury in rats

Elham Motallebzadeh , Fatemeh Aghighi, Zarichehr Vakili, Sayyed Alireza Talaei , Mehran Mohseni


Background and purpose: Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant with radioprotective properties. We designed the current work to assess the neuroprotective function of ALA in the presence of oxidative stress induced by radiation in the brainstem of rats.

Experimental approach: Whole-brain radiations (X-rays) was given at a single dose of 25 Gy with or without pretreatment with ALA (200 mg/kg BW). Eighty rats were categorized into four groups: vehicle control (VC), ALA, radiation-only (RAD), and radiation + ALA (RAL). The rats were given ALA intraperitoneally 1 h before radiation and killed following 6 h, thereafter superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), malondialdehyde (MDA), and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) in the brainstem were measured. Furthermore, a pathological examination was carried out after 24 h, 72 h, and five days to determine tissue damage.

Findings/Results: The findings indicated that MDA levels in the brainstem were 46.29 ± 1.64 μM in the RAD group and decreased in the VC group (31.66 ± 1.72 μM). ALA pretreatment reduced MDA levels while simultaneously increasing SOD and CAT activity and TAC levels (60.26 ± 5.47 U/mL, 71.73 ± 2.88 U/mL, and 227.31 ± 9.40 mol/L, respectively). The greatest pathological changes in the rat’s brainstems were seen in RAD animals compared to the VC group after 24 h, 72 h, and 5 days. As a result, karyorrhexis, pyknosis, vacuolization, and Rosenthal fibers vanished in the RAL group in three periods.

Conclusion and implications: ALA exhibited substantial neuroprotectivity following radiation-induced brainstem damage.


Alpha-lipoic acid; Brainstem; Histopathology; Ionizing radiation; Oxidative stress.

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