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Stroke. 1996 Apr;27(4):743-6.

Effect of age and sex on N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist-induced neuronal necrosis in rats.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Although N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonism may be a useful therapeutic approach in stroke treatment, it has been found that these pharmacological agents cause neuronal necrosis in restricted cortical regions of the rodent brain.


To test the hypothesis that age and sex influence NMDA antagonist-induced neuronal necrosis, male and female rats were studied at 2 months (young), 12 months (middle-aged), and 24 months (old) of age. A dose of 5 mg/kg MK-801 was administered, followed by quantitation of neuronal necrosis at nine coronal levels in the cingulate and retrosplenial cortex at 1 week of survival.


Mortality was dependent on age but not sex and was higher in the old rats (P<.01). The number of necrotic neurons per hemisphere was greater in female than in male rats at all ages (P<.0001). Female rats also showed increasing neuronal necrosis with age (P<.05).


The results indicate a major sex difference in neuronal cytotoxicity caused by NMDA antagonists and a minor increase in susceptibility with increasing age in females. The findings may be relevant to development of drugs with NMDA antagonist properties for use in human stroke.

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