Capsaicin exhibits neuroprotective effects in a model of transient global cerebral ischemia in Mongolian gerbils

Simona Pegorini, Daniela Braida, Chiara Verzoni, Chiara Guerini-Rocco, Gian Giacomo Consalez, Laura Croci, Mariaelvina Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Capsaicin, the irritant principle of hot peppers, is a vanilloid agonist known to activate the transient receptor potential channel vanilloid subfamily member 1 (VR1), recently reported to be involved in neurodegeneration. The present study investigated the role of VR1 in a model of global cerebral ischemia in gerbils. Over the dose range tested, capsaicin (0.01, 0.025, 0.05, 0.2 and 0.6 mg kg -1), given 5 min after recirculation, dose-dependently antagonized the ischemia-induced electroencephalographic total spectral power decrease and restored relative frequency band distribution evaluated 7 days after ischemia. Capsaicin, at all tested doses, fully prevented ischemia-induced hyperlocomotion evaluated 1 day after ischemia. Capsaicin dose-dependently antagonized ischemia-induced memory impairment evaluated in a passive avoidance task, 3 days after ischemia. Capsaicin showed a dose-dependent hypothermic effect evaluated for 2 h after recirculation. At 7 days after ischemia, a progressive survival of pyramidal cells in the CA1 subfield in capsaicin-treated gerbils, with a maximum of 80%, at a dose of 0.2 mg kg -1, was obtained. The selective VR1 antagonist, capsazepine (0.01 mg kg -1), reversed capsaicin-induced protective effects, in a competitive manner. These results suggest that the neuroprotective effect of capsaicin may be attributable, at least in part, to VR1 desensitizadon and provide a valuable target for development of interventional pharmacological strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-735
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • CA1
  • Capsaicin
  • EEG
  • Ischemia
  • Memory
  • Motor activity
  • Neuroprotection
  • Rectal temperature
  • Vanilloid agonist
  • Vanilloid antagonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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