We investigated the effects of mild and non-lethal ischemic insult on neuronal death following subsequent lethal ischemic stress in various brain regions, using a gerbil model of bilateral cerebral ischemia. Single 10-min ischemia consistently caused neuronal damage in the hippocampal CA1, CA2, CA3 and CA4, layer III/IV of the cerebral cortex, dorsolateral part of the caudoputamen and ventrolateral part of the thalamus. On the other hand, in double ischemia groups, 2-min ischemic insult 2 days before 10-min ischemia exhibited significant protection in the CA1 and CA3 of the hippocampus, the cerebral cortex, the caudoputamen and the thalamus. Five-min ischemic insult 2 days before 10-min ischemia also showed protective effect in the same areas as those of 2-min ischemia except for the CA1 region of the hippocampus, while 1-min ischemic insult exhibited no protective effect in any brain regions. In the immunoblot analysis, both 2- and 5-min ischemia caused increased synthesis of heat shock protein 72 (HSP 72) in the hippocampus, but 1-min ischemia did not. The present study demonstrated that the 'ischemic tolerance' phenomenon was widely found in the brain and also suggested that ischemic treatment severe enough to cause HSP 72 synthesis might be needed for induction of 'ischemic tolerance'.
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