Phosphorylation of the DNA-binding transcription factor, cyclic AMP response element binding protein, has recently been suggested to provide neuroprotective signals in times of cellular stress. Medium-sized striatal neurons are among the cells that are most vulnerable to ischemic stress in the brain. In the present study, phosphorylation of cyclic AMP response element binding protein was immunohistochemically evaluated in rat striatum in order to examine the ischemic vulnerability of each striatal region from the standpoint of cyclic AMP response element binding protein. Rats were subjected to 90-min focal cerebral ischemia followed by various periods of recirculation. Focal ischemia was induced by occlusion of the middle cerebral artery by the intraluminal suture method. Local cerebral blood flow measured by the 14C-iodoantipyrine method in the lateral and the medial striatal regions during occlusion was 5.0±7.1 and 42.5±8.1ml/100g/min, respectively. Cerebral blood flow in each region was restored to the control level during the recirculation period. The lateral and the medial regions of the striatum in the sham animals showed hardly any immunoreactivity with the specific antibody against phosphorylated cyclic AMP response element binding protein. By contrast, at 3.5h of recirculation, a number of phosphorylated cyclic AMP response element binding protein-positive neurons were detected in the medial striatal region on the occluded side, and the increase in the number of immunopositive cells continued until two weeks of recirculation with gradual decline. The lateral striatal region on the ischemic side showed only a mild increase in phosphorylated cyclic AMP response element binding protein-positive cells at 3.5h of recirculation, and the immunoreactivity rapidly disappeared during the subsequent recirculation period. Appreciable increase in immunoreactive cells was also noted in the contralateral striatum during the early phase of recirculation, and this increase seemed to be associated with spontaneous circling movements of the animals. Cresyl Violet staining revealed that striatal neurons in the medial region remained intact until two weeks of recirculation, whereas neurons in the lateral striatal region soon showed ischemic damage, followed by complete neuronal loss, and evolution of a frank infarct. Immunoreactivity for bcl-2, apoptosis-suppressive protein, was clearly detected in many neurons in the medial striatal region, but no such immunoreactivity was detected in the lateral striatal region.These findings suggest that persistently activated phosphorylation of cyclic AMP response element binding protein in the striatum during post-ischemic recirculation may be closely associated with protection of striatal neurons on the ischemic side, while it may be associated with spontaneous circling movements on the contralateral side. Copyright (C) 2000 IBRO.
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