In baboons the right cerebral hemisphere was embolised by a shower of microemboli, immediately followed by one large embolus designed to occlude the middle cerebral artery (MCA). One hour after embolism a significant, though small, reduction in blood flow and oxygen consumption of the embolised hemisphere was recorded, at which time the animals were killed and brain monoamines measured. Dopamine was reduced in the ipsilateral caudate nucleus, the reported site of maximal ischaemic damage in this model. Dopamine levels were increased in frontal and occipital grey matter sampled from areas surrounding the occluded MCA territory and in similar brain areas of the opposite non-embolised hemisphere. Noradrenaline was increased in grey matter from both cerebral hemispheres, as well as subcortical structures bilaterally. Brain 5-hydroxytryptamine levels were unaltered, but increased 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in cisternal cerebrospinal fluid suggested transient alteration in 5-hydroxytryptamine metabolism after embolism. The effects of cerebral embolism on brain monoamine metabolism appear to be different from the effects of permanent surgical occlusion of major cerebral vessels. The bilaterality of effects after unilateral hemispheric embolism might be related to diaschisis. The mechanisms of the observed changes, as well as their relevance to the progression of cerebral ischaemia and the complications associated with cerebral embolism, still require to be established.
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