Ischemic stroke is a serious threat to human life and health, which is often accompanied by cerebral ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury in clinic. Ischemic postconditioning (IPostC) is a short period of mild non-fatal ischemia in the early stage of cerebral I/R injury. However, there are few reports about the protective effect of IPostC. In the present study, we investigated the neuroprotective effect of IPostC in a mice model of ischemia induced by the middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). MicroRNA-124(miR-124) is a small RNA highly expressed in the brain. Several studies have shown that miR-124 is significantly decreased in IPostC. Therefore, we hypothesize that IPostC may play an important role by downregulating the expression of miR-124. Mice were treated with cerebral I/R and IPostC treatment on the basis of MCAO. The results showed that IPostC significantly reduced neurobehavioral deficits and decreased brain infarct volume. Moreover, we also found that inhibiting miR-124 effectively reduced neurons/cells apoptosis in vivo and vitro. In addition, western blot analysis of apoptosis-related proteins and PI3K/Akt2 signaling pathway proteins showed that downregulation of miR-124 significantly decreased the expression of Caspase-3 and BAX, and increased the expression of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. Inhibition of miR-124 also increase PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway, thus inhibiting cell apoptosis and autophagy. However, overexpression of miR-124 weakens the protective effect of IPostC. These observations suggest that IPostC exerts its neuroprotective effect through negatively regulating PI3K/Akt2 signaling pathway by miR-124.
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