Background: Our studies show that Insulin like growth factor (IGF)-1 reduces MCAo-induced infarction in middle-aged female rats. We tested the hypothesis that IGF-1s neuroprotective effect is due to its action on the microvascular /endothelial barrier in the early acute phase of stroke.
Methods: Middle-aged (12 mo) acyclic female rats were subject to intraluminal middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) for 90 min followed by reperfusion and terminated 4h or 24h later. Animals received ICV infusion of artificial CSF, IGF-1 or IGF-1+JB-1. In separate experiments, we evaluated infarct volume, barrier assessment by uptake of Evan’s blue dye or histological evaluation of lectin stained microvessels. In parallel, cortical endothelial cells from middle-aged females were harvested and cultured ex vivo. Barrier properties were tested in cultures in transfer wells exposed to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD) in the presence or absence of IGF-1 with FITC-labeled BSA in the media.
Results: At 4h post MCAo, IGF-1 treatment significantly reduced brain uptake of Evan’s blue dye, while infarct volume was no different from controls. At 24h post MCAo, IGF-1 reduced infarct volume by 40% and decreased motor impairment (neurological score; p<0.05). Lectin stained microvessels in the ischemic hemisphere displayed wider lumens (normal uncompressed lumen, p<0.003) and more intense label (p<0.01) in IGF-1 treated animals as compared to either vehicle or IGF-1+JB-1 groups. Ex vivo, IGF-1 reduced the loss of cell-cell contact due to OGD and reduced the dye transfer across the monolayer.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that IGF-1 acts in the early acute phase of ischemic stroke to reduce barrier permeability, which precedes its beneficial effect on infarct volume and behavior. Further, brain endothelial cells play a crucial role in
IGF-1 mediated neuroprotection in middle-aged females.