We have demonstrated previously that acute nerve compression produces ischemia/reperfusion injury in rat sciatic nerve. In this study, we evaluated the effects of deferoxamine, an antioxidant, on recovery from ischemia/reperfusion injury after nerve compression. The sciatic nerves of male Sprague-Dawley rats, 370 to 430 g, were subjected to 24 hours of compression with Silastic tubing. The control group received intravenous saline solution at the time of decompression. The therapeutic group received intravenous deferoxamine (50 mg per kilogram) at the time of removal of the Silastic tubing. Nerve tissues within and distal to the compression site were assayed for malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and for growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43) expression, as markers of ischemia/reperfusion injury and nerve regeneration, respectively. In the control group (injury alone), the MDA levels were three times higher than normal during the initial 10 days and returned to normal by 14 days. In contrast, the deferoxamine treatment group had MDA levels that were not significantly different from precompression levels. In the control group, enhanced GAP-43 expression persisted until late in the recovery period. In the deferoxamine treatment group, the increased GAP-43 expression subsided early. The results suggest that the treatment of compressed peripheral nerve with deferoxamine at the time of surgical decompression reduces ischemia/reperfusion injury.
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