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Am J Pathol. 1994 Jan;144(1):188-99.

Influx of leukocytes and platelets in an evolving brain infarct (Wistar rat).

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Department of Pathology (Neuropathology), Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan 48202-2689.


The results of several experimental studies of focal ischemia and anecdotal observations suggest that leukocytes may contribute to the injury initiated by an arterial occlusion. The timing and the nature of leukocyte responses in evolving brain infarcts (either human or experimental) are incompletely characterized. This is a study of experimental brain lesions in 96 Wistar rats that underwent occlusion of a large intracranial artery for variable intervals ranging between 30 minutes and 7 days. The experimental model, based on the occlusion of a middle cerebral artery ostium via the insertion of a nylon monofilament through the external carotid artery, does not require opening the skull; therefore, the inflammatory response is not influenced by the effects of craniotomy and changes in intracranial pressure are only those induced by the ischemic lesion. All 96 animals having the same type of arterial occlusion developed an ischemic brain lesion (limited to the territory of the corresponding artery) that evolved into an area of extensive neuronal necrosis over a period of 6 to 12 hours followed by pan-necrosis (infarct) approximately 60 hours later. In this study, leukocytes (in particular polymorphonuclear cells) were detected in the microvessels (capillaries and venules) of the ischemic hemisphere as early as 30 minutes after the arterial occlusion. Numbers of intravascular neutrophils peaked at 12 hours, whereas intraparenchymal granulocytes were most numerous at 24 hours; a few granulocytes were visible in the brain infarct as late as day 7. Circulating monocytes were first detected within the capillaries/venules of the ischemic area after 4 to 6 hours. Platelet aggregates were more abundant in the arterial than the venous side of the circulation, and luminal obstruction of arteries by platelet aggregates became noticeable only 48 hours after the arterial occlusion. Fibrin thrombi were conspicuous for their absence. These observations provide the background for studies that will attempt to unravel the relationship between the biological responses of leukocytes and neuronal necrosis secondary to focal ischemia.

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