Human Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dismutase Transgenic Mice Are Highly Resistant to Reperfusion Injury After Focal Cerebral Ischemia

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Background and Purpose

We have demonstrated in a previous study that superoxide radicals play a role in the pathogenesis of cerebral infarction, using a transgenic mouse model of distal middle cerebral artery occlusion, permanent ipsilateral cerebral carotid artery occlusion, and 1-hour contralateral cerebral carotid artery occlusion that produced infarction only in the cortex. However, the role of superoxide radicals in reperfusion injury in transgenic mice overexpressing superoxide dismutase (SOD) is unknown. Using a mouse model of intraluminal blockade of middle cerebral artery that produced both cortical and striatal infarction, we now further examined the role of superoxide radicals in ischemic cerebral infarction after reperfusion in transgenic mice overexpressing human CuZn-SOD activity.


Transgenic mice of strain Tg HS/SF-218, carrying human SOD-1 genes, and nontransgenic littermates were anesthetized with chloral hydrate (350 mg/kg IP) and xylazine (4 mg/kg IP). Physiological parameters were maintained at a normal range using a 30% O2/70% N2O gas mixture inserted via an inhalation mask. Body temperature was maintained at 37±0.5°C by using a heating pad throughout the studies. The middle cerebral artery occlusion was achieved with a 5-0 rounded nylon suture placed within the internal cerebral artery for 3 hours followed by the removal of the suture to allow reperfusion for another 3 hours. Cerebral infarct size in brain slices and infarct volume, neurological deficit, cortical blood flow, and glutathione levels were measured in both transgenic and nontransgenic mice.


Compared with the nontransgenic mice, the infarcted areas were significantly decreased in coronal slices from transgenic mice. The infarct volume (in cubic millimeters) was reduced by 26% in transgenic mice after ischemia and reperfusion. This decrease in the infarct volume in transgenic mice closely paralleled the reduced neurological deficits. Introduction of the suture to block blood supply to the middle cerebral artery territory produced a rapid decrease in the relative surface blood flow in the ipsilateral core and the peri-ischemic (penumbra) areas. There were no significant differences in the local cerebral blood flow in the ischemic core or the penumbra areas between the transgenic and nontransgenic groups. However, the level of reduced glutathione in the penumbra area was significantly higher in transgenic mice than in nontransgenic mice, whereas there was no difference in the reduced glutathione levels in the ischemic core between these two groups.


Our study demonstrated that superoxide radicals play a major role in the pathogenesis of cerebral infarction in reperfusion injury after a focal stroke. The reduction in infarct volume and neurological deficits is not dependent on the changes in cerebral blood flow but rather correlate with reduced oxidative stress in the ischemic brain tissue, which was indicated by the relatively high levels of endogenous reduced glutathione in transgenic mice.

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