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Neuroreport. 1998 Jan 5;9(1):161-6.

Chronic cerebral hypoperfusion elicits neuronal apoptosis and behavioral impairment.

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Institute of Neuroscience, Life Sciences Research Center, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Chronic reductions in cerebral blood flow associated with aging and progressive neurodegenerative disorders can precipitate cognitive failure. To assess whether chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency elicits neuronal apoptosis, apoptotic cell death in the hippocampus was quantitated in a rat model of permanent carotid occlusion. Bilateral carotid artery occlusion (2VO) was shown to induce apoptotic morphology and DNA strand breaks in hippocampal neurons 2 and 27 weeks after ligation. The rate of pyramidal cell apoptosis was higher at chronic (27 weeks) compared to sub-chronic (2 weeks) time points. 2VO-induced apoptosis resulted in a decrease in total pyramidal cell number at 27 weeks but not at earlier time points, indicating progressive neuronal loss. Working and reference memory errors in the radial arm maze were strongly correlated with the number of apoptotic neurons in CA1 but not CA3 pyramidal cell fields. These data provide the first indication that apoptotic loss of pyramidal neurons may play a role in memory impairment associated with clinical conditions of chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency.

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