The evolution of brain infarction after transient focal cerebral ischemia was studied in mice using multiparametric imaging techniques. One- hour focal cerebral ischemia was induced by occluding the middle cerebral artery using the intraluminal filament technique. Cerebral protein synthesis (CPS) and the regional tissue content of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) were measured after recirculation times from 0 hours to 3 days. The observed changes were correlated with the expression of the mRNAs of hsp-70, c-fos, and junB, as well as the distribution of DNA double-strand breaks, visualized by TUNEL. At the end of 1 hour of ischemia, protein synthesis was suppressed in a larger tissue volume than ATP in accordance with the biochemical differentiation between core and penumbra. Hsp70 mRNA was selectively expressed in the cortical penumbra, whereas c-fos and junB mRNAs were increased both in the lateral part of the penumbra and in the ipsilateral cingulate cortex with normal metabolism. During reperfusion after withdrawal of the intraluminal filament, suppression of CPS persisted except in the most peripheral parts of the middle cerebral artery territory, in which it recovered between 6 hours and 3 days. ATP, in contrast, returned to normal levels within 1 hour but secondarily deteriorated from 3 hours on until, between 1 and 3 days, the ATP-depleted area merged with that of suppressed protein synthesis leading to delayed brain infarction. Hsp70 mRNA, but not c- fos and junB, was strongly expressed during reperfusion, peaking at 3 hours after reperfusion. TUNEL-positive cells were detected from 3 hours on, mainly in areas with secondary ATP depletion. These results stress the importance of an early recovery of CPS for the prevention of ischemic injury and suggest that TUNEL is an unspecific response of delayed brain infarction.
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