Investigators will use cellular imaging in an animal model of stroke to quantify decreases in brain oxygenation that occur during stroke, and to assess the therapeutic potential of providing oxygen following the stroke to protect nearby brain tissues from further damage.
Ischemic strokes are produced when a normal blood flow to the brain is blocked, cutting off delivery of its precious oxygen cargo. Normally, blood oxygen concentrations diffuse to cross blood vessel walls, and the oxygen is then taken up by cells to support their metabolic functions. During an ischemic stroke, the lack of oxygen sets off a cascade of damaging events around the stroke area. As oxygen-starved brain cells die, brain tissue damage ensues. Stroke therapies often target the “ischemic penumbra,” the outer region of brain tissue damage, where the tissue is potentially salvageable. One experimental therapy, called “normobaric hyperoxia” (breathing of high levels of oxygen) has been shown in animal studies to reduce the size of the infarcted brain area and increase brain tissue oxygen levels in the penumbra.
The investigators now will take the first step to determine whether normobaric hyperoxia is likely to benefit stroke patients and to identify the underlying processes involved. They will combine two imaging techniques in animal models to characterize normal oxygenation and blood flow dynamics and determine how these differ in mild and severe ischemic stroke. Specifically, they will use phosphorescence quenching methods to map the delivery and utilization of dissolved oxygen by brain cells, and two photon fluorescence microscopy to provide a 3-deminsional quantification of the level of degenerating neurons and the size of ischemic tissue damage. By combining these techniques, they will determine the degree of oxygenation achieved through normobaric hyperoxia and determine whether high increased oxygen therapy levels correlate with lower levels of damaged brain tissue.
Significance: If results show that oxygen therapy is correlated with lower levels of post-stroke tissue damage in the animal model, the research would provide important new evidence in support of human stroke therapy studies.