Ministrokes in Rat Barrel Cortex

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Background and Purpose Many stroke models in rats are based on occlusion of the middle cerebral artery, which supplies a significant portion of multifunctional cortical and deep structures in the cerebral hemisphere. The purpose of this study was to develop a model for direct observation in real time of blood flow in and around focal ischemic regions of the cortex of known function.Methods Cranial windows were placed over the parietal cortex of adult Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats anesthetized with ketamine and xylazine. Whisker barrel cortex responding to stimulation of the contralateral whiskers was identified by an intrinsic optical signal. Transits of vital dyes were recorded by videomicroscopy before and after ligation of three to six branches and major collaterals of the middle cerebral artery through the dura. Infarcts were demonstrated with triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining; their relation to barrel cortex was determined by Nissl and cytochrome oxidase histology.Results Reduced blood flow in small ischemic regions was outlined by patent blue violet in the surrounding nonischemic area; arteriovenous latencies increased more than four times in ischemic cortex. Infarcts, typically 3 mm or less, were seen at 24 hours in 8 of 16 Wistar and 9 of 9 Sprague-Dawley rats. The ministrokes were confirmed by histology to be in the somatosensory cortex.Conclusions This model of local ischemia, produced deliberately in the functionally defined barrel cortex in rats, leads to ministrokes. Changes can be followed by videomicroscopy as they develop, and processes of recovery can potentially be monitored. Infarcts are confirmed by histology for their location and extent in the somatic representation.(Stroke. 1995;26:1459-1462.)

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