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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Jul;299(1):H55-61. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.01111.2009. Epub 2010 Apr 23.

Preventing increased blood pressure in the obese Zucker rat improves severity of stroke.

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  • 1Vascular Biology Center, Medical College of Georgia, 1459 Laney Walker Blvd., Augusta, GA 30912, USA.


Obesity is a risk factor for stroke, but the determinants of increased stroke risk in obesity are unknown. We have previously reported that obese Zucker rats (OZRs) have a worse stroke outcome and display evidence of remodeling of the middle cerebral artery (MCA), in parallel with hypertension, compared with lean controls. This study tested the hypothesis that hypertension is an essential determinant of cerebral vascular remodeling and increased stroke damage in OZRs. Blood pressure was measured by telemetry in lean and obese rats with and without hydrochlorthiazide (HCT; 2 from 8 to 15 wk of age. A separate group of rats was also chronically fed a low-sodium (LS) diet. Vessel structure was assessed in isolated, pressurized MCAs. Cerebral ischemia was induced for 60 min using an intralumenal suture technique, followed by 24 h of reperfusion. HCT treatment effectively prevented the increase in blood pressure in obese rats; however, the LS diet did not lower pressure. Importantly, infarct size was normalized by HCT after ischemia-reperfusion injury. Additionally, HCT improved the changes in MCA structure observed in untreated OZRs. There were no benefits of the LS diet on stroke injury or vessel structure. These results indicate that increased pressure is essential for driving the changes in infarct size in OZRs.

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