Methylene blue post-treatment improves hypoxia-ischemic recovery in a neonatal rat model

Guangwei Zhang, Yujiao Lu, Luodan Yang, Yan Dong, Jin Wen, Jianguo Xu, Quanguang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Recent work suggested that methylene blue (MB) has beneficial effects in a variety of neurological disorders, while its role in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic (HI) encephalopathy is still unclear. The current study was designed to investigate the effects of MB on HI-induced brain damage and its underlying mechanisms. The results showed that MB treatment can strongly attenuate HI-induced brain loss and neuronal damage in the cortex and hippocampus of neonatal rats. Further mechanistic analysis suggested that MB treatment was able to significantly reduce blood-brain barrier disruption after HI insult. In addition, MB profoundly inhibited microglia and astrocyte activation and the pro-inflammatory cytokines production in neonatal cortex and hippocampus after HI. Further, MB treatment resulted in dramatic suppression of oxidative damage, as evidenced by robustly decreased DHE and protein carbonyls levels in HI brain. Moreover, MB strongly preserved mitochondrial function by repressing HI-induced mitochondrial fragmentation, and the following neuronal death in cortex and hippocampus. Finally, behavioral tests revealed that MB significantly improved the spatial reference memory and motor coordination of neonatal HI rats. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the mechanisms behind neuroprotective actions of methylene blue are multifactorial, including suppression of oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, restoration of mitochondrial function, as well as attenuation of blood-brain barrier disruption. Our study might provide further directions for MB as a promising option in neonatal HI encephalopathy therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104782
JournalNeurochemistry International
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Methylene blue
  • Neonatal hypoxia-ischemia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Neuroprotection
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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