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BMC Neurosci. 2014 Jan 3;15:2. doi: 10.1186/1471-2202-15-2.

Microcirculatory, mitochondrial, and histological changes following cerebral ischemia in swine.

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Department of Disaster Medicine, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Eiveniu 4, LT-50161 Kaunas, Lithuania.



Ischemic brain injury due to stroke and/or cardiac arrest is a major health issue in modern society requiring urgent development of new effective therapies. The aim of this study was to evaluate mitochondrial, microcirculatory, and histological changes in a swine model of global cerebral ischemia.


In our model, significant microcirculatory changes, but only negligible histological cell alterations, were observed 3 h after bilateral carotid occlusion, and were more pronounced if the vascular occlusion was combined with systemic hypotension. Analysis of mitochondrial function showed that LEAK respiration (measured in the presence of pyruvate + malate but without ADP) was not affected in any model of global cerebral ischemia in pigs. The OXPHOS capacity with pyruvate + malate as substrates decreased compared with the control levels after bilateral carotid artery occlusion, and bilateral carotid artery occlusion + hypotension by 20% and 79%, respectively, resulting in decreases in the respiratory control index of 14% and 73%, respectively. OXPHOS capacity with succinate as a substrate remained constant after unilateral carotid artery occlusion or bilateral carotid artery occlusion, but decreased by 53% after bilateral carotid artery occlusion and hypotension compared with controls (p < 0.05, n = 3-6). Addition of exogenous cytochrome c to mitochondria isolated from ischemia brains had no effect on respiration in all models used in this study.


We found a decrease in microcirculation and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation activity, but insignificant neuronal death, after 3 h ischemia in all our pig models of global cerebral ischemia. Dysfunction of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation system, particularly damage to complex I of the respiratory chain, may be the primary target of the ischemic insult, and occurs before signs of neuronal death can be detected.

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