Intraischemic but not postischemic brain hypothermia protects chronically following global forebrain ischemia in rats

W. Dalton Dietrich, Raul Busto, Ofelia Alonso, Mordecai Y.T. Globus, Myron D. Ginsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

395 Scopus citations


We investigated whether postischemic brain hypothermia (30°C) would permanently protect the hippocampus following global forebrain ischemia. Global ischemia was produced in anesthetized rats by bilateral carotid artery occlusion plus hypotension (50 mm Hg). In the postischemic hypothermic group, brain temperature was maintained at 37°C during the 10-min ischemic insult but reduced to 30°C starting 3 min into the recirculation period and maintained at 30°C for 3 h. In normothermic animals, intra- and postischemic brain temperature was maintained at 37°C. After recovery for 3 days, 7 days, or 2 months, the extent of CA1 hippocampal histologic injury was quantitated. At 3 days after ischemia, postischemic hvpothermia significantly protected the hippocampal CA1 sector compared with normothermic animals. For example, within the medial, middle, and lateral CA1 subsectors, the numbers of normal neurons were increased 20-, 13-, and 9-fold by postischemic hypothermia (p < 0.01). At 7 days after the ischemic insult, however, the degree of postischemic hypothermic protection was significantly reduced. In this case, the numbers of normal neurons were increased an average of only threefold compared with normothermia. Ultrastructural analysis of 7-day postischemic hypothermic rats demonstrated CA1 pyramidal neurons showing variable degrees of injury surrounded by reactive astrocytes and microglial cells. At 2 months after the ischemic insult, no trend for protection was demonstrated. In contrast to postischemic hypothermia, significant protection was seen at 2 months following intraischemic hypothermia. These data indicate that intraischemic, but not postischemic, brain hypothermia provides chronic protection to the hippocampus after transient brain ischemia. The inability of postischemic hypothermia to protect chronically after 3 days could indicate that (a) postischemic hypothermia merely delays ischemic cell death and/or (b) the postischemic brain undergoes a secondary insult. In postischemic treatment protocols, chronic survival studies are required to determine accurately the ultimate histopathological outcome following global cerebral ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-549
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993


  • Brain temperature
  • Hypothermia
  • Microglia
  • Neuroprotection
  • Pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Neuroscience(all)


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