Global cerebral ischemia in rats leads to amnesia due to selective neuronal death followed by astroglial scar formation in the CA1 layer

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Global Cerebral Ischemia (GCI) occurs following cardiac arrest or neonatal asphyxia and leads to harmful neurological consequences. In most cases, patients who survive cardiac arrest develop severe cognitive and motor impairments. This study focused on learning and memory deficits associated with brain neuroanatomical reorganization that appears after GCI. The four-vessel occlusion (4VO) model was performed to produce a transient GCI. Hippocampal lesions in ischemic rats were visualized using anatomical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (aMRI). Then, the learning and memory abilities of control and ischemic (bilaterally or unilaterally) rats were assessed through the olfactory associated learning task. Finally, a “longitudinal” histological study was carried out to highlight the cellular reorganizations occurring after GCI. We demonstrated that the imaging, behavioral and histological results are closely related. In fact, aMRI revealed the appearance of hyper-intense signals in the dorsal hippocampus at day 3 post-GCI. Consequently, we showed a rise in cell proliferation (Ki 67+ cells) and endogenous neurogenesis especially in the dentate gyrus (DG) at day 3 post-GCI. Then, hyper-intense signals in the dorsal hippocampus were confirmed by strong neuronal losses in the CA1 layer at day 7 post-GCI. These results were linked with severe learning and memory impairments only in bilaterally ischemic rats at day 14 post-GCI. This amnesia was accompanied by huge astroglial and microglial hyperactivity at day 30 post-GCI. Finally, Nestin+ cells and astrocytes gave rise to astroglial scars, which persisted 60 days post-GCI. In the light of these results, the 4VO model appears a reliable method to produce amnesia in order to study and develop new therapeutic strategies.

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