Comparative histopathologic consequences of photothrombotic occlusion of the distal middle cerebral artery in sprague-dawley and wistar rats

Carrie G. Markgraf, Susan Kraydieh, Ricardo Prado, Brant D. Watson, W. Dalton Dietrich, Myron D. Ginsberg

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84 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: We have developed a minimally invasive model of photothrombotic occlusion of the distal middle cerebral artery in rats and have evaluated the patterns and features of the resulting histopathologic injury in two normotensive strains. Methods: Food-deprived male Sprague-Dawley (n=14) and Wistar (n=10) rats anesthetized with halothane/nitrous oxide underwent a small craniotomy to expose the right distal middle cerebral artery just above the rhinal fissure. The animals were injected intravenously with the photosensitizing dye rose bengal, and the distal middle cerebral artery was irradiated with light from an argon laser-activated dye laser at three separate points to induce thrombotic occlusion. The ipsilateral common carotid artery was then permanently occluded, and the contralateral common carotid artery was occluded for 60 minutes. Three days later, the brains were perfusion-fixed and prepared for histopathologic examination, and infarct volume was determined by quantitative planimetry. Results: In Sprague-Dawley rats, a large consistent temporoparietal cortical infarct was observed; mean±SD infarct volume was 130.5±40.0 mm3 (coefficient of variation, 30.7%) and a relatively small adjacent zone of selective neuronal necrosis ("incomplete infarction"), amounting to only 9.1% of the total injury volume, was also seen. By contrast, Wistar rats had smaller and more variable cortical infarcts (volume, 48.4±26.9 mm3; coefficient of variation, 55.6%) but displayed a much more substantial zone of incomplete cortical infarction (volume, 20.8±10.1 mm3; 30.1% of the total injury volume). In neither strain was infarct size related to alterations of blood pressure. In both strains, infarcts were limited to the cortex, typically involving the parietal cortex, somatosensory cortex, and forelimb region. Three rats exhibited infarcts in the contralateral hemisphere. Conclusions: This model has the advantages of necessitating only minimal surgery, allowing the dura to remain intact, and avoiding mechanical trauma to the brain surface. In Sprague-Dawley rats, the resulting large cortical infarct exhibited relatively small interanimal variation, making the model suitable, for example, for replicate studies of pharmacotherapy. In Wistar rats, the large zone of incomplete infarction, a unique feature heretofore undescribed in rodent models of permanent focal ischemia, lends the model to the study of the pathomechanisms underlying graded cortical ischemic injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-292
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1993


  • Animal models
  • Cerebral arteries
  • Rats
  • Thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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