Post-injury baicalein improves histological and functional outcomes and reduces inflammatory cytokines after experimental traumatic brain injury

S. F. Chen, C. W. Hsu, W. H. Huang, J. Y. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) triggers a complex series of inflammatory responses that contribute to secondary tissue damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of baicalein, a flavonoid possessing potent anti-inflammatory properties, on functional and histological outcomes and inflammatory cytokine expression, following TBI in rats. Experimental approach: Rats subjected to controlled cortical impact injury were injected with baicalein (30 mg kg -1) or vehicle immediately after injury or daily for 4 days. Neurological status was evaluated using the rotarod, adhesive removal, modified neurological severity scores and beam walk tests. Contusion volume and neuronal degeneration were measured using cresyl violet and FluoroJade B (FJB) histochemistry. Levels of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) mRNA and protein were assessed by real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunohistochemistry. Key results: Single-dose and multiple-dose treatment with baicalein significantly improved functional recovery and reduced contusion volumes up to day 28 post-injury, although multiple-dose baicalein was the more effective treatment. Single-dose baicalein also significantly reduced the number of degenerating neurons (31%) on post-injury day 1 as indicated by FJB staining. These changes were associated with significantly decreased levels, at the contusion site, of TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 mRNA at 6 h, and cytokine protein on day 1 post-injury. Conclusions and implications: Post-injury treatment with baicalein improved functional and histological outcomes and reduced induction of proinflammatory cytokines in rat TBI. The neuroprotective effect of baicalein may be related to a decreased inflammatory response following the injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1296
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 25 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Baicalein
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1b
  • Interleukin-6
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Tumour necrosis factor-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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