The rat nematode lungworm Angiostrongylus cantonensis undergoes obligatory intracerebral migration in its hosts and causes eosinophilic meningitis or meningoencephalitis. Heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) has several cytoprotective properties such as anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic effects. HO-1 in brain tissues was induced in A. cantonensis-infected group and showed positive modulation in cobalt protoporphyrin (CoPP)-treated groups. Assay methods for the therapeutic effect include western blot analysis, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, gelatin zymography, blood-brain barrier permeability evaluation and eosinophil count in cerebrospinal fluid. The combination of albendazole (ABZ) and CoPP significantly decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-5, and IL-33 but significantly increased anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and transforming growth factor-β. In addition, worm recovery, matrix metalloproteinase-9, BBB permeability, and eosinophil counts were decreased in the ABZ and CoPP co-treated groups. Induction of HO-1 with CoPP strongly inhibited the protein levels of caspase-3 and increased the induction of annexin-V and B-cell leukemia 2. Thus, co-treatment with ABZ and CoPP prevented A. cantonensis-induced eosinophilic meningoencephalitis and its anti-apoptotic effect by promoting HO-1 signaling prior to BBB dysfunction. HO-1 induction might be a therapeutic modality for eosinophilic meningoencephalitis.Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.
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