We investigated the neuropathological and biochemical changes in the white matter of normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) after bilateral carotid artery ligation (BCAL). One week after BCAL, both WKY and SHR showed white matter rarefaction and vacuolation with reduced oligodendrocytes, but there was no difference between WKY and SHR. On the other hand, vacuoles formed by oligodendroglial cell death were increased significantly from 2 to 4 weeks in the optic tract and fimbria fornix of hypoperfused SHR. Furthermore, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP in situ nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells and lectin-positive microglia increased in number and intensities of staining more markedly in SHR than in WKY. In situ cell death detection ELISA supported these results quantitatively. RT-PCR represented the expression of TNF-α, TNF receptor 1 (p55), caspase-2 (Ich-1) and -3 (CPP32) mRNAs in both WKY and SHR brains after BCAL. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that TNF-α, TNF receptor 1 (p55), Ich-1 and CPP32 immunoreactive cells could also be detected in the white matter regions of hypoperfused SHR. These results suggested that local production of TNF-α by the activated microglia might selectively induce oligodendroglial cell death through the death domain-containing TNF receptor 1 (p55), caspase-2 or -3 activation, resulting in white matter changes as a primary pathological feature.
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