Abstract:  “Cerebral collateral circulation and age are critical factors in determining outcome from acute ischemic stroke. Aging may lead to rarefaction of cerebral collaterals, and thereby accelerate ischemic injury by reducing penumbral blood flow. Dynamic changes in pial collaterals after onset of cerebral ischemia may vary with age but have not been extensively studied. Here, laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) and two-photon laser scanning microscopy (TPLSM) were combined to monitor cerebral pial collaterals between the anterior cerebral artery (ACA) and the middle cerebral artery (MCA) in young adult and aged male Sprague Dawley rats during distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAo). Histological analysis showed that aged rats had significantly greater volumes of ischemic damage than young rats. LSCI showed that cerebral collateral perfusion declined over time after stroke in aged and young rats, and that this decline was significantly greater in aged rats. TPLSM demonstrated that pial arterioles narrowed faster after dMCAo in aged rats compared to young adult rats. Notably, while arteriole vessel narrowing was comparable 4.5 h after ischemic onset in aged and young adult rats, red blood cell velocity was stable in young adults but declined over time in aged rats. Overall, red blood cell flux through pial arterioles was significantly reduced at all time-points after 90 min post-dMCAo in aged rats relative to young adult rats. Thus, collateral failure is more severe in aged rats with significantly impaired pial collateral dynamics (reduced diameter, red blood cell velocity, and red blood cell flux) relative to young adult rats.”


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