Open Access Research article

Hydroxysafflor Yellow A protects spinal cords from ischemia/reperfusion injury in rabbits

Le-qun Shan1, Sai Ma2, Xiu-chun Qiu1, Yong Zhou1, Yong Zhang1, Lian-he Zheng1, Peng-cheng Ren1, Yu-cai Wang1, Qing-yu Fan1 and Bao-an Ma1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tangdu Hospital, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi' an 710038, China

2 Department of Prosthodontics, School of Stomatology, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi' an 710032, China

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BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:98  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-98

Published: 13 August 2010



Hydroxysafflor Yellow A (HSYA), which is one of the most important active ingredients of the Chinese herb Carthamus tinctorius L, is widely used in the treatment of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. However, the potential protective effect of HSYA in spinal cord ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is still unknown.


Thirty-nine rabbits were randomly divided into three groups: sham group, I/R group and HSYA group. All animals were sacrificed after neurological evaluation with modified Tarlov criteria at the 48th hour after reperfusion, and the spinal cord segments (L4-6) were harvested for histopathological examination, biochemical analysis and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining.


Neurological outcomes in HSYA group were slightly improved compared with those in I/R group. Histopathological analysis revealed that HSYA treatment attenuated I/R induced necrosis in spinal cords. Similarly, alleviated oxidative stress was indicated by decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) level and increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity after HSYA treatment. Moreover, as seen from TUNEL results, HSYA also protected neurons from I/R-induced apoptosis in rabbits.


These findings suggest that HSYA may protect spinal cords from I/R injury by alleviating oxidative stress and reducing neuronal apoptosis in rabbits.