Ultrastructural studies of cerebral vascular spasm after cardiac arrest-related global cerebral ischemia in rats.
ABSTRACT The present investigation was undertaken to study the ultrastructural morphology of brain blood vessels during vasospasm following total cerebral ischemia. Global cerebral ischemia was produced in rats by compression of the cardiac vessel bundle (i.e., cardiac arrest) using a metal hook that was introduced into the mediastinum. Ischemia lasted for 10 min with blood recirculation for 6, 12 and 24 h. Rat brains were perfusion-fixed and regions from the cerebral cortex and associated leptomeningeal vessels were evaluated by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. We noted three general vasoconstrictive responses in vessels of various sizes including veins and arteries. These alterations related to the smooth muscle cell arrangement associated with each constricted vessel including a circumferential, and longitudinal arrangement, or a combination of both types. Other features in the three types of vasoconstricted vessels included thickening of the vessel basement membranes with increased endothelial microfilaments and vesicular profiles. Our studies present evidence that ischemia of 10-min duration with blood reflow for 6, 12 and 24 h produces profound and variable vasospastic changes in some but not all vessels. These vascular alterations are thought to be caused in part by vasoactive substances released both by endothelial and blood cells and by perivascular cellular elements in response to the ischemic episode.