Environmental enrichment improves functional and neuropathological indices following stroke in young and aged rats. Restorative Neurol Neurosci
Aging is associated with a temporally dysregulated cellular response to ischemia as well as poor functional recovery. While environmental enrichment has been shown to improve the behavioral outcome of stroke in young animals, the effect of an enriched environment on behavioral and neuropathological recovery in aged animals is not known.
Focal cerebral ischemia was produced by electrocoagulation of the right middle cerebral artery in 3 month- and 20 month-old male Sprague-Dawley rats. The functional outcome was assessed in neurobehavioral tests conducted over a period of 28 days following surgery. Brain tissue was then immunostained for proliferating astrocytes and the infarct and scar tissue volumes were measured.
Aged rats showed more severe behavioral impairments and diminished functional recovery compared to young rats. Most infarcted animals had disturbances of sensorimotor function, with recovery beginning later, progressing more slowly, and reaching a lower functional endpoint in aged animals. However, the enriched environment significantly improved the rate and extent of recovery in aged animals. Correlation analysis revealed that the beneficial effect of the enriched environment on recovery, both in young and aged rats, correlated highly with a reduction in infarct size, in the number of proliferating astrocytes, and in the volume of the glial scar.
These results suggest that temporally modulating astrocytic proliferation and the ensuing scar formation might be a fruitful approach to improving functional recovery after stroke in aged rats.
Available from: Ilaria Piano
- "The assessment of EE outcome is made comparing EE animals to controls matched for age, sex and strain, but maintained in standard laboratory cages (ST conditions), while housing and feeding settings are kept unvaried. Various rodent models of CNS pathologies, including experimental ischemia (Buchhold et al., 2007), Huntington disease (Spires et al., 2004; van Dellen et al., 2000) and Alzheimer disease (Redolat and Mesa-Gresa, 2012) show reduction of symptoms and delayed time course upon exposure to EE. In the visual system, EE exerts well-documented effects of accelerating the development of the visual cortex and the retina, with an outcome of increased visual acuity in mice enriched from birth (Sale et al., 2007, 2004). "
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ABSTRACT: Retinal photoreceptors are highly specialized and performing neurons. Their cellular architecture is exquisitely designed to host a high concentration of molecules involved in light capture, phototransduction, electric and chemical signaling, membrane and molecular turnover, light and dark adaption, network activities etc. Such high efficiency and molecular complexity require a great metabolic demand, altogether conferring to photoreceptors particular susceptibility to external and internal insults, whose occurrence usually precipitate into degeneration of these cells and blindness. In Retinitis Pigmentosa, an impressive number of mutations in genes expressed in the retina and coding for a large varieties of proteins leads to the progressive death of photoreceptors and blindness. Recent advances in molecular tools have greatly facilitated the identification of the underlying genetics and molecular bases of RP leading to the successful implementation of gene therapy for some types of mutations, with visual restoration in human patients. Yet, genetic heterogeneity of RP makes mutation-independent approaches highly desirable, although many obstacles pave the way to general strategies for treating this complex disease, which remains orphan. The review will focus on treatments for RP based on pharmacological tools, choosing, among the many ongoing studies, approaches which rely on strong experimental evidence or rationale. For perspective treatments, new concepts are foreseen to emerge from basic studies elucidating the pathways connecting the primary mutations to photoreceptor death, possibly revealing common molecular targets for drug intervention.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Available from: Thorsten Roland Doeppner
- "When aged rats were allowed to recover in an enriched environment, the delay period was shortened and behavioral performance was significantly improved. The improvement in task performance positively correlated with slower infarct development, fewer proliferating astrocytes and smaller glial scars (Buchhold et al., 2007). Even more effective rehabilitation of the contralateral forelimb could be achieved by combining enriched environment with physical training (Hicks et al., 2007). "
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ABSTRACT: Stroke has limited treatment options, demanding a vigorous search for new therapeutic strategies. Initial enthusiasm to stimulate restorative processes in the ischemic brain by means of cell-based therapies has meanwhile converted into a more balanced view recognizing impediments related to unfavorable environments that are in part related to aging processes. Since stroke afflicts mostly the elderly, it is highly desirable and clinically important to test the efficacy of cell therapies in aged brain microenvironments. Although widely believed to be refractory to regeneration, recent studies using both neural precursor cells and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells for stroke therapy suggest that the aged rat brain is not refractory to cell-based therapy, and that it also supports plasticity and remodeling. Yet, important differences exist in the aged compared with young brain, i.e., the accelerated progression of ischemic injury to brain infarction, the reduced rate of endogenous neurogenesis and the delayed initiation of neurological recovery. Pitfalls in the development of cell-based therapies may also be related to age-associated comorbidities, e.g., diabetes or hyperlipidemia, which may result in maladaptive or compromised brain remodeling, respectively. These age-related aspects should be carefully considered in the clinical translation of restorative therapies.
- "Each rat was tested for its ability to cross a rotating (6 rpm) horizontal rod. The score assessment was done as previously described by our group (Buchhold et al., 2007). Briefly, the time taken for the rat to traverse the rotating cylinder and join a group of rats visible at the finish line was measured. "
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ABSTRACT: Attractive therapeutic strategies to enhance post-stroke recovery of aged brains include methods of cellular therapy that can enhance the endogenous restorative mechanisms of the injured brain. Since stroke afflicts mostly the elderly, it is highly desirable to test the efficacy of cell therapy in the microenvironment of aged brains that is generally refractory to regeneration. In particular, stem cells from the bone marrow allow an autologous transplantation approach that can be translated in the near future to the clinical practice. Such a bone marrow-derived therapy includes the grafting of stem cells as well as the delayed induction of endogenous stem cell mobilization and homing by the stem cell mobilizer granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). We tested the hypothesis that grafting of bone marrow-derived pre-differentiated mesenchymal cells (BM-MSCs) in G-CSF-treated animals improves the long-term functional outcome in aged rodents. To this end, G-CSF alone (50 μg/kg) or in combination with a single dose (106 cells) of rat BM MSCs was administered intravenously to Sprague-Dawley rats at 6 h after transient occlusion (90 min) of the middle cerebral artery. Infarct volume was measured by magnetic resonance imaging at 3 and 48 days post-stroke and additionally by immunhistochemistry at day 56. Functional recovery was tested during the entire post-stroke survival period of 56 days. Daily treatment for post-stroke aged rats with G-CSF led to a robust and consistent improvement of neurological function after 28 days. The combination therapy also led to robust angiogenesis in the formerly infarct core and beyond in the “islet of regeneration.” However, G-CSF + BM MSCs may not impact at all on the spatial reference-memory task or infarct volume and therefore did not further improve the post-stroke recovery. We suggest that in a real clinical practice involving older post-stroke patients, successful regenerative therapies would have to be carried out for a much longer time.
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