Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(4):333-339. doi:10.7150/ijms.17514

Research Paper

GSK-3β as a target for protection against transient cerebral ischemia

Wei Wang1,2*, Mingchang Li1*, Yuefei Wang1, Zhongyu Wang3,4, Wei Zhang4, Fangxia Guan5, Qianxue Chen1✉, Jian Wang3,6✉

1. Department of Neurosurgery, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430060, P.R. China;
2. Department of Traumatic Surgery, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, P.R. China;
3. Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA;
4. Department of Anesthesiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450052, P.R. China;
5. School of Life Sciences, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450000, P. R. China;
6. Department of Anatomy, College of Basic Medical Sciences, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, P. R. China
* These authors contributed equally to the manuscript.


Stroke remains the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. This fact highlights the need to search for potential drug targets that can reduce stroke-related brain damage. We showed recently that a glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) inhibitor attenuates tissue plasminogen activator-induced hemorrhagic transformation after permanent focal cerebral ischemia. Here, we examined whether GSK-3β inhibition mitigates early ischemia-reperfusion stroke injury and investigated its potential mechanism of action. We used the rat middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model to mimic transient cerebral ischemia. At 3.5 h after MCAO, cerebral blood flow was restored, and rats were administered DMSO (vehicle, 1% in saline) or GSK-3β inhibitor TWS119 (30 mg/kg) by intraperitoneal injection. Animals were sacrificed 24 h after MCAO. TWS119 treatment reduced neurologic deficits, brain edema, infarct volume, and blood-brain barrier permeability compared with those in the vehicle group. TWS119 treatment also increased the protein expression of β-catenin and zonula occludens-1 but decreased β-catenin phosphorylation while suppressing the expression of GSK-3β. These results indicate that GSK-3β inhibition protects the blood-brain barrier and attenuates early ischemia-reperfusion stroke injury. This protection may be related to early activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway.

Keywords: blood-brain barrier, ischemic stroke, Wnt/β-catenin signaling, TWS119

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How to cite this article:
Wang W, Li M, Wang Y, Wang Z, Zhang W, Guan F, Chen Q, Wang J. GSK-3β as a target for protection against transient cerebral ischemia. Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(4):333-339. doi:10.7150/ijms.17514. Available from