Transgenic mice over-expressing endothelial endothelin-1 show cognitive deficit with blood–brain barrier breakdown after transient ischemia with long-term reperfusion

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• TET-1 mice showed increased anxiety after transient MCAO with 7 days reperfusion. • TET-1 mice showed cognitive deficit after transient MCAO with 7 days reperfusion. • Severe BBB breakdown was detected in TET-1 mice after ischemic/reperfusion injury. • Increased apoptosis were found in the hippocampus of TET-1 mice after the injury.

Increased level of endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor, has been found in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) of patients with multi-infarction dementia, suggesting a possible role of ET-1 in cognitive deficit associated with stroke. Previously, we have reported that synthesis of ET-1 is induced in endothelial cells in hypoxic/ischemic conditions. Transgenic mice over-expressing endothelin-1 in endothelial cells (TET-1) developed systemic hypertension and showed more severe brain damage after transient ischemia. To further understand the significance of endothelial ET-1 in cognitive deficit, we subjected adult TET-1 mice to 30 min middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) with 7 days reperfusion. At baseline, TET-1 mice showed similar locomotor activity, emotion and cognitive function compared to non-transgenic (NTg) mice. However, after 30 min MCAO and 7 days reperfusion, although the sensorimotor function measured by neurological scores was recovered in both genotypes, TET-1 mice showed increased anxiety-like behavior in the open field test and impaired spatial learning and reference memory in the Morris water maze. Parallel with these behavioral changes, TET-1 mice showed more severe brain damage with blood–brain–barrier breakdown (BBB), reactive astrogliosis, increased caspase-3, and increased peroxiredoxin 6 (Prx6) expressions around blood vessels in the ipsilateral hippocampus, compared to that of NTg mice, suggesting that ET-1 over-expression in the endothelial cells leads to more severe BBB breakdown and increased oxidative stress which may resulted in neuronal apoptosis and glial reactivity, which might contribute to the emotional changes and cognitive deficits after short-term ischemia with long-term reperfusion.

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