Open Access Research article

Neither in vivo MRI nor behavioural assessment indicate therapeutic efficacy for a novel 5HT1A agonist in rat models of ischaemic stroke

Maria Ashioti1*, John S Beech2, Andrew S Lowe1, Michel Bernanos1, Andrew McCreary3, Michel M Modo1 and Steve CR Williams1

Author Affiliations

1 Neuroimaging Research Group, Clinical Neuroscience – PO42, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK

2 Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, UK

3 Solvay Pharmaceuticals, C.J. van Houtenlaan 36, 1381 CP Weesp, the Netherlands

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:82  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-82

Published: 16 July 2009



5HT1A agonists have previously been shown to promote recovery in animal models of stroke using ex vivo outcome measures which have raised the hopes for a potential clinical implementation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential neuroprotective properties of a novel 5HT1A agonist DU123015 in 2 different models of transient focal ischaemic stroke of varying severities using both in vivo neuroimaging and behavioural techniques as primary outcome measures. For these studies, the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 was also utilized as a positive control to further assess the effectiveness of the stroke models and techniques used.


In contrast to MK-801, no significant therapeutic effect of DU123015 on lesion volume in either the distal MCAo or intraluminal thread model of stroke was found. MK-801 significantly reduced lesion volume in both models; the mild distal MCAo condition (60 min ischaemia) and the intraluminal thread model, although it had no significant impact upon the lesion size in the severe distal MCAo condition (120 min ischaemia). These therapeutic effects on lesion size were mirrored on a behavioural test for sensory neglect and neurological deficit score in the intraluminal thread model.


This study highlights the need for a thorough experimental design to test novel neuroprotective compounds in experimental stroke investigations incorporating: a positive reference compound, different models of focal ischaemia, varying the duration of ischaemia, and objective in vivo assessments within a single study. This procedure will help us to minimise the translation of less efficacious compounds.