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Stroke. 2001 Nov;32(11):2648-57.

A comparison of long-term functional outcome after 2 middle cerebral artery occlusion models in rats.

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CNS Pharmacology Department, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Ann Arbor Laboratories, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



Proven behavioral assessment strategies for testing potential therapeutic agents in rat stroke models are needed. Few studies include tasks that demand higher levels of sensorimotor and cognitive function. Because behavioral outcome and rate of recovery vary among ischemia models, there is a need to characterize and compare performance on specific tasks across models.


To this end, sensorimotor and cognitive deficits were assessed during a 5-week period after either permanent proximal middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO) or permanent distal middle cerebral artery occlusion combined with a 90-minute occlusion of both common carotid arteries (dMCAO/tCCAO) in Sprague-Dawley rats. The EBST, hindlimb and forelimb placing, and cylinder tests were given at regular intervals postinjury to assess sensorimotor function. Cognitive function was assessed with a multitrial water navigation task.


pMCAO, which caused both striatal and cortical damage, produced persistent sensorimotor and cognitive deficits. Limb placing responses and postural reflexes were impaired throughout the month of testing. A persistent bias for using the ipsilateral forelimb for wall movements in the cylinder test was observed as well as a bias for landing on the opposite forelimb. pMCAO rats were also impaired in the water navigation task. dMCAO/tCCAO, which caused only cortical damage, produced similar sensorimotor deficits, but these were greatly diminished by 2 weeks after injury. No impairment was found for water tank navigation. Correlations between forelimb placing (both models), water navigation performance (pMCAO model), and sensorimotor asymmetry (dMCAOtCCAO model) and infarct volume were observed.


Based on the range of functions affected and stability of observed deficits, the pMCAO model appears to be preferable to the dMCAO/tCCAO model for use in assessing therapeutic agents for stroke.

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