Blood-brain barrier disruption in white matter lesions in a rat model of chronic cerebral hypoperfusion

M. Ueno, H. Tomimoto, I. Akiguchi, H. Wakita, H. Sakamoto

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125 Citations (Scopus)


Blood-brain barrier damage has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebrovascular white matter lesions. This type of lesion is responsible for cognitive impairment in the elderly and can be induced by permanent ligation of the bilateral common carotid arteries in the rat. Because it is unclear whether the blood-brain barrier is impaired, we examined whether vascular permeability to horseradish peroxidase is altered using this model. According to light microscopic results, the reaction product of horseradish peroxidase was most intensely localized to the paramedian part of the corpus callosum in the brain, occurring to a small degree at 3 hours, day 1, markedly on day 3, but reduced on days 7 and 14. By electron microscopic study of the same area, the reaction product of horseradish peroxidase was localized to the plasmalemmal vesicles in the endothelial cells 3 hours after ligation, but appeared in the cytoplasm on days 1 and 3, suggesting a diffuse leakage of horseradish peroxidase. In addition, the reaction product was dispersed into the cytoplasm of glial cells in the perivascular regions on day 3. The luminal surface of the endothelial cell cytoplasm appeared irregular on day 7, suggesting a conformational change of the endothelial cells. Collagen fibrils proliferated in the thickened basal lamina and mitochondria degenerated in the pericyte on days 7 and 14. Perivascular glial endfeet were swollen throughout the survival period. In sham-operated rats, the reaction product of horseradish peroxidase was not observed at any time interval, except in vesicular structures. These findings indicate that chronic cerebral hypoperfusion induces blood-brain barrier damage with subsequent morphologic changes of the vascular structures in the corpus callosum. An extravasation of macromolecules, such as proteases and immunoglobulins, may contribute to the pathogenesis of white matter lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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