Effect of transient cerebral ischaemia on acetylcholine release in the gerbil hippocampus

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To clarify the relationship between presynaptic cholinergic dysfunction and postsynaptic cell death in the hippocampus, extracellular levels of acetylcholine (ACh) were assayed and CA1 pyramidal cells were histologically investigated in gerbils which had undergone 2, 5 and 10 min ischaemia. It was found that the KCl- and atropine-induced release of ACh, an index of the functioning cholinergic system at the presynaptic terminals, was significantly lower in the ischaemic groups than in control groups. The hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cell area of the 5 and 10 min ischaemic animals was also significantly decreased, but the 2 min ischaemia caused no cell damage. These findings indicate that the presynaptic terminals of the cholinergic neurone are vulnerable to ischaemic insult and that cholinergic dysfunction precedes postsynaptic CA1 pyramidal cell death in the hippocampus.

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