Ranitidine, a widely used substance used as an antihistaminic drug against gastric ulcers, may become a new treatment for cerebral ischemia caused by craneoencephalic infarcts or traumatisms, the third leading cause of deaths in industrialised countries. In experiments with an model of cerebral ischemia using rats, a team from the Institute of Neurosciences of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) has observed how the presence of ranitidine reduces neuronal death by a quarter. The substance reaches its maximum effect six hours after the lesion has occurred, which will facilitate treatment in real cases with humans.
The scientists of the Institute of Neurosciences at the UAB have studied ranitidine’s effects on an experimental model using neurons from rats’ brains. The cells underwent a lack of oxygen and glucose analogous to that which they suffer, within the brain, when there is a lack of blood flow (what happens when there is a cerebral ischemia) caused by an infarct or a traumatism. When a lesion of this type occurs, the cells either die directly or, in many cases, they becomes victims of a slow programmed death called apoptosis, a kind of “suicide” at a cellular level.
The researchers observed that ranitidine acts preferentially on the neurons that are in the process of apopotosis, and conclusively reduces the percentage of cells that die. Even when treatment is initiated six hours after the lack of oxygen and glucose, and maintaining it over a 24-hour period, this substance reduces by a quarter the number cells that die with respect to the number of cells that die when there is no treatment.
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