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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2010 Jun;21(6):903-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2010.02.023. Epub 2010 Apr 22.

Stroke location and brain function in an embolic rabbit stroke model.

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Department of Radiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, M1/269, 4301 West Markham Street, Mail Slot 556, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.



Current rabbit stroke models often depend on symptoms as endpoints for embolization and produce wide variation in location, size, and severity of strokes. In a further refinement of an angiographic embolic stroke model, localized infarctions were correlated to neurologic deficits with the goal to create a rabbit model for long-term studies of therapies after stroke.


New Zealand White rabbits (4-5 kg; N = 71) had selective internal carotid artery (ICA) angiography and a single clot was injected. At 24 hours, neurologic assessment score (NAS) was measured on an 11-point scale (0, normal; 10, dead). Brains were removed and stained to identify stroke areas. All animals with single strokes (n = 31) were analyzed by specific brain structure involvement, and NAS values were correlated.


Stroke incidence differed by location, with cortex, subcortical, and basal ganglia regions highest. The middle cerebral artery (MCA), at 52%, and anterior cerebral artery (ACA), at 29%, were most commonly involved, with the largest stroke volumes in the ACA distribution. Brainstem and cerebellum strokes had disproportionately severe neurologic deficits, scoring 2.25 +/- 1.0 on the NAS, which represented a significant (P < .02) difference versus cortex (0.5 +/- 0.2), subcortical (1.3 +/- 0.4), and basal ganglia (0.5 +/- 0.3), all in the frontal or parietal regions.


MCA and ACA distributions included 81% of strokes. These sites were relatively silent (potentially allowing longer-term survival studies) whereas others in the posterior circulation produced disproportionately severe symptoms. Symptoms were not reliable indicators of stroke occurrence, and other endpoints such as imaging may be required. These are important steps toward refinement of the rabbit stroke model.

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