Hyperglycemic exacerbation of neuronal damage following forebrain ischemia: Microglial, astrocytic and endothelial alterations

Baowan Lin, Myron D. Ginsberg, Raul Busto

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72 Scopus citations


We undertook a detailed characterization of the cellular responses to acute global cerebral ischemia complicated by hyperglycemia. Anesthetized, physiologically monitored male Wistar rats received 12.5 min of global forebrain ischemia by bilateral common carotid artery occlusions plus hemorrhagic hypotension to 45 mmHg. Cranial temperature was maintained at normothermic levels. Hyperglycemic animals received dextrose (2.5 ml of a 25% solution, intraperitoneally) prior to ischemia; this doubled the mean plasma glucose concentration to 296 mg/100 ml. At 3 days (n = 10) or 24 h (n = 4) after ischemia, brains were perfusion-fixed and paraffin-embedded for light microscopic histopathology and for the histochemical visualization of activated microglia and the immunocytochemical visualization of glial fibrillary acid protein. Normal-neuron counts in the vulnerable hippocampal CA1 sector of hyperglycemic-ischemic (HI) rats were reduced to one-third the number observed in normoglycemic-ischemic (NI) animals. Ischemic cell counts in the striatum were increased fivefold or more in HI compared to NI rats, and normal small-neuron counts were reduced by two-thirds. The neocortex and striatum of NI rats showed only mild damage, while the majority of HI rats had extensive lesions, and several showed large cortical, striatal or thalamic infarcts. In addition, widespread cortical ischemic neuronal changes were evident in HI animals. No endothelial alterations were present in NI rats. By contrast, HI rats showed prominent peri- and intravascular polymorphonuclear and monocytic accumulation evident at 24 h; frequent white cell thrombi in pial arterioles on day 3; and thickening of vascular endothelium, with foci of parenchymal rarefaction or microinfarction adjacent to occluded vessels. Prominent microglial activation, often along the course of penetrating blood vessels, was common in the striatum and neocortex of HI animals but was much less extensive in the NI group. Activated microglia in HI rats were typically hypertrophic and amoeboid. These results suggest that the detrimental influence of hyperglycemia in ischemia is initially mediated by an action on vascular endothelium, which in turn leads to widespread foci of infarction and neuronal loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-620
Number of pages11
JournalActa neuropathologica
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1998


  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • Glucose
  • Isolectin
  • Rat
  • Selective vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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