Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in rats is a well-studied experimental model for ischemic stroke leading to brain infarction and functional deficits. Many preclinical studies have focused on a small time window after the ischemic episode to evaluate functional outcome for screening therapeutic candidates. Short evaluation periods following injury have led to significant setbacks due to lack of information on the delayed effects of treatments, as well as short-lived and reversible neuroprotection, so called false-positive results. In this report, we evaluated long-term functional deficit for 90 days after MCAO in two rat strains with two durations of ischemic insult, in order to identify the best experimental paradigm to assess injury and subsequent recovery. Behavioral outcomes were measured pre-MCAO followed by weekly assessment post-stroke. Behavioral tests included the 18-point composite neurological score, 28-point neuroscore, rearing test, vibrissae-evoked forelimb placing test, foot fault test and the CatWalk. Brain lesions were assessed to correlate injury to behavior outcomes at the end of study. Our results indicate that infarction volume in Sprague-Dawley rats was dependent on occlusion duration. In contrast, the infarction volume in Wistar rats did not correlate with the duration of ischemic episode. Functional outcomes were not dependent on occlusion time in either strain; however, measurable deficits were detectable long-term in limb asymmetry, 18- and 28-point neuroscores, forelimb placing, paw swing speed, and gait coordination. In conclusion, these behavioral assays, in combination with an extended long-term assessment period, can be used for evaluating therapeutic candidates in preclinical models of ischemic stroke.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2011.01.010
View details for Web of Science ID 000290781200003
View details for PubMedID 21256866
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3539723