Differing Neurochemical and Morphological Sequelae of Global Ischemia: Comparison of Single‐ and Multiple‐Insult Paradigms

Baowan Lin, Mordecai Y.‐T Globus, W. Dalton Dietrich, Raul Busto, Elena Martinez, Myron D. Ginsberg

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59 Scopus citations


The purpose of this investigation was to investigate pathomechanisms responsible for the deleterious effects of repeated episodes of brief forebrain ischemia. Halothane-anesthetized male Wistar rats were subjected to either (a) a single 15-min period or (b) three 5-min periods (separated by 1 h) of global forebrain ischemia by bilateral carotid artery occlusions plus hypotension (50 mm Hg), followed by various periods of recirculation. Brain temperature was normothermic throughout. In one series of rats, extracellular levels of glutamate, glycine, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) were measured in the dorsolateral striatum (n = 6-8 per group) and lateral thalamus (n = 4-6 per group) by microdialysis and HPLC before and during ischemia and during 3-5 h of recirculation. In a parallel series of rats ( n = 6 per group), ischemic cell change was quantified at 2 (dark neurons), 24, or 72 h following either single or multiple ischemic insults. A single 15-min ischemic period led to massive glutamate release (13-fold increase; p = 0.001), which returned to normal by 20-30 min of recirculation and remained normal thereafter. By contrast, in rats with three 5-min periods of ischemia, the glutamate level rise with each repeated insult (four- to 4.5-fold; p ≤ 0.02) was smaller than that observed during the single 15-min insult, but a late sustained rise (five- to six-fold; p < 0.05) occurred at 2-3 h of recirculation. Brief ischemiainduced elevations of glycine and GABA levels were detected in both the single- and multiple-insult groups, with normalization during recirculation. In contrast, the excitotoxic index, a composite measure of neurotransmitter release ([glutamate] X [glycine]/[GABA]), differed markedly following single versus multiple insults (p = 0.002 by repeated-measures analysis of variance) and increased by seven- to 12-fold (p < 0.05) at 1-3 h following the third insult. The total amount of glutamate released was 3.3-fold higher in the multiple-insult than in the single-insult group (p < 0.02). At 2 h of recirculation, histopathological analysis of dorsolateral striatum showed a significantly greater frequency of dark neurons in the multiple- than in the single-insult group (p < 0.05 by analysis of variance). In the thalamus, a higher frequency of ischemic neurons was seen in the multiple- than in the single-insult group at all intervals studied. Thus, in rats with multiple ischemic insults, accelerated ischemic damage was found in the striatum, and severe ischemic injury was documented in the thalamus. These results demonstrate that multiple ischemic insults lead to a massive, sustained glutamate accumulation and to a major increase in the excitotoxic index during early recirculation, which is not seen following a single brief ischemic episode. These neurochemical changes correlate with our histopathological data showing an accelerated evolution of striatal pathology at 2 h following multiple ischemic insults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2213-2223
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Excitotoxicity
  • Global ischemia
  • Histopathology
  • Microdialysis
  • Multiple insults
  • Selective vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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