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stroke, retinal ganglion cell, optic nerve, animal model, laser doppler

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Middle cerebral artery occlusion in rodents remains a widely used model of ischemic stroke. Recently, we reported the occurrence of retinal ischemia in animals subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion, owing in part to the circulatory juxtaposition of the ophthalmic artery to the middle cerebral artery. In this study, we examined the eye hemodynamics and visual deficits in middle cerebral artery occlusion-induced stroke rats. The brain and eye were evaluated by laser Doppler at baseline (prior to middle cerebral artery occlusion), during and after middle cerebral artery occlusion. Retinal function-relevant behavioral and histological outcomes were performed at 3 and 14 days post-middle cerebral artery occlusion. Laser Doppler revealed a typical reduction of at least 80% in the ipsilateral frontoparietal cortical area of the brain during middle cerebral artery occlusion compared to baseline, which returned to near-baseline levels during reperfusion. Retinal perfusion defects closely paralleled the timing of cerebral blood flow alterations in the acute stages of middle cerebral artery occlusion in adult rats, characterized by a significant blood flow defect in the ipsilateral eye with at least 90% reduction during middle cerebral artery occlusion compared to baseline, which was restored to near-baseline levels during reperfusion. Moreover, retinal ganglion cell density and optic nerve depth were significantly decreased in the ipsilateral eye. In addition, the stroke rats displayed eye closure. Behavioral performance in a light stimulus-mediated avoidance test was significantly impaired in middle cerebral artery occlusion rats compared to control animals. In view of visual deficits in stroke patients, closely monitoring of brain and retinal perfusion via laser Doppler measurements and examination of visual impairments may facilitate the diagnosis and the treatment of stroke, including retinal ischemia.

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Cell Transplantation, v. 29, p. 1-9

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