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Hypertension. 1993 Jan;21(1):105-11.

Smaller local brain volumes and cerebral atrophy in spontaneously hypertensive rats.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-8122.


Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) have enlarged cerebral ventricles from 8 weeks of age onward and smaller brains than age-matched, normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats (controls). At 6-7 months of age local cerebral glucose utilization is apparently lower in many brain areas of SHR relative to WKY rats. These observations led to the hypothesis that there are morphological differences between these two strains of rats in many, if not all, brain areas. This hypothesis was tested in 6-7-month-old SHR and WKY rats by quantitating 1) the volumes of the ventricular system, whole brain, six gray matter structures, and two white matter areas; 2) the thickness of two regions of the cerebral cortex; and 3) the frequency of neuronal nuclei (neuronal frequency) in nine brain areas. Ventricular volume was twofold greater in SHR than in control rats. The volumes of the entire brain and all six gray matter structures plus the thickness of the two cortical regions were 11-25% less in SHR. Neuronal frequency was, however, similar in the two rat strains. The latter finding coupled with the smaller regional tissue volumes indicates appreciably fewer neurons per brain structure in young adult SHR than in controls. These results indicate significant cerebral structural differences between young adult SHR and WKY rats and suggest that structure as well as metabolism are abnormal in the SHR brain.

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