AbstractBackground and Purpose—
Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition associated with chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), carries an increased risk of stroke. However, CIH has been reported to either increase or decrease brain injury in models of focal cerebral ischemia. The factors determining the differential effects of CIH on ischemic injury and their mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the intensity of the hypoxic challenge determines the protective or destructive nature of CIH by modulating mitochondrial resistance to injury.Methods—
Male C57Bl/6J mice were exposed to CIH with 10% or 6% O2 for ≤35 days and subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Motor deficits and infarct volume were assessed 3 days later. Intraischemic cerebral blood flow was measured by laser-Doppler flowmetry and resting cerebral blood flow by arterial spin labeling MRI. Ca2+-induced mitochondrial depolarization and reactive oxygen species production were evaluated in isolated brain mitochondria.Results—
We found that 10% CIH is neuroprotective, whereas 6% CIH exacerbates tissue damage. No differences in resting or intraischemic cerebral blood flow were observed between 6% and 10% CIH. However, 10% CIH reduced, whereas 6% CIH increased, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production and susceptibility to Ca2+-induced depolarizations.Conclusions—
The influence of CIH on the ischemic brain is dichotomous and can be attributed, in part, to changes in the mitochondrial susceptibility to injury. The findings highlight a previously unappreciated complexity in the effect of CIH on the brain, which needs to be considered in evaluating the neurological effect of conditions associated with cyclic hypoxia.