Mechanism of Action and Translational Potential of ()-Meclizine in Preemptive Prophylaxis Against Stroke.


BACKGROUND: Mild chemical inhibition of mitochondrial respiration can confer resilience against a subsequent stroke or myocardial infarction, also known as preconditioning. However, the lack of chemicals that can safely inhibit mitochondrial respiration has impeded the clinical translation of the preconditioning concept. We previously showed that meclizine, an over-the-counter antivertigo drug, can toggle metabolism from mitochondrial respiration toward glycolysis and protect against ischemia-reperfusion injury in the brain, heart, and kidney. Here, we examine the mechanism of action of meclizine and report the efficacy and improved safety of the ) enantiomer.

METHODS: We determined the anoxic depolarization latency, tissue and neurological outcomes, and glucose uptake using micro-positron emission tomography after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice pretreated (-17 and -3 hours) with either vehicle or meclizine. To exclude a direct effect on tissue excitability, we also examined spreading depression susceptibility. Furthermore, we accomplished the chiral synthesis of )- and )-meclizine and compared their effects on oxygen consumption and histamine H1 receptor binding along with their brain concentrations.

RESULTS: Micro-positron emission tomography showed meclizine increases glucose uptake in the ischemic penumbra, providing the first in vivo evidence that the neuroprotective effect of meclizine indeed stems from its ability to toggle metabolism toward glycolysis. Consistent with reduced reliance on oxidative phosphorylation to sustain the metabolism, meclizine delayed anoxic depolarization onset after middle cerebral artery occlusion. Moreover, the ) enantiomer showed reduced H1 receptor binding, a dose-limiting side effect for the racemate, but retained its effect on mitochondrial respiration. )-meclizine was at least as efficacious as the racemate in delaying anoxic depolarization onset and decreasing infarct volumes after middle cerebral artery occlusion.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data identify )-meclizine as a promising new drug candidate with high translational potential as a chemical preconditioning agent for preemptive prophylaxis in patients with high imminent stroke or myocardial infarction risk.

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