© 2021 The Author(s) Stroke is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability globally. Edema is a hallmark of stroke resulting from dysregulation of water homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS) and plays the major role in stroke-associated morbidity and mortality. The overlap between cellular and vasogenic edema makes treating this condition complicated, and to date, there is no pathogenically oriented drug treatment for edema. Water balance in the brain is tightly regulated, primarily by aquaporin 4 (AQP4) channels, which are mainly expressed in perivascular astrocytic end-feet. Targeting AQP4 could be a useful therapeutic approach for treating brain edema; however, there is no approved drug for stroke treatment that can directly block AQP4. In this study, we demonstrate that the FDA-approved drug trifluoperazine (TFP) effectively reduces cerebral edema during the early acute phase in post-stroke mice using a photothrombotic stroke model. This effect was combined with an inhibition of AQP4 expression at gene and protein levels. Importantly, TFP does not appear to induce any deleterious changes on brain electrolytes or metabolic markers, including total protein or lipid levels. Our results support a possible role for TFP in providing a beneficial extra-osmotic effect on brain energy metabolism, as indicated by the increase of glycogen levels. We propose that targeting AQP4-mediated brain edema using TFP is a viable therapeutic strategy during the early and acute phase of stroke that can be further investigated during later stages to help in developing novel CNS edema therapies.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes