Endovascular middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats as a model for studying vascular dementia

Shao Hua Yang, Ritu A. Shetty, Ran Liu, Nathalie Sumien, Kevin R. Heinrich, Margaret Rutledge, Nopporn Thangthaeng, Anne Marie Brun-Zinkernagel, Michael J. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Vascular dementia (VaD), incorporating cognitive dysfunction with vascular disease, ranks as the second leading cause of dementia in the United States, yet no effective treatment is currently available. The challenge of defining the pathological substrates of VaD is complicated by the heterogeneous nature of cerebrovascular disease and coexistence of other pathologies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) types of lesion. The use of rodent models of ischemic stroke may help to elucidate the type of lesions that are responsible for cognitive impairment in humans. Endovascular middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion in rats is considered to be a convenient and reliable model of human cerebral ischemia. Both sensorimotor and cognitive dysfunction can be induced in the rat endovascular MCA occlusion model, yet sensorimotor deficits induced by endovascular MCA occlusion may improve with time, whereas data presented in this review suggest that in rats this model can result in a progressive course of cognitive impairment that is consistent with the clinical progression of VaD. Thus far, experimental studies using this model have demonstrated a direct interaction of cerebral ischemic damage and AD-type neuropathologies in the primary ischemic area. Further, coincident to the progressive decline of cognitive function, a delayed neurodegeneration in a remote area, distal to the primary ischemic area, the hippocampus, has been demonstrated in a rat endovascular MCA occlusion model. We argue that this model could be employed to study VaD and provide insight into some of the pathophysiological mechanisms of VaD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Hippocampus
  • Ischemia
  • Middle cerebral artery
  • Stroke
  • Vascular dementia


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