A high-potassium diet reduces infarct size and improves vascular structure in hypertensive rats

Anne M. Dorrance, David M. Pollock, Olga P. Romanko, David W. Stepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


High-potassium diets can improve vascular function, yet the effects of potassium supplementation on ischemic stroke have not been studied. We hypothesized that dietary potassium supplementation would reduce ischemic cerebral infarct size by reversing cerebral artery hypertrophy. Six-week-old male stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP) were fed diets containing 0.79% potassium (LK) or 2.11% potassium (HK) for 6 wk; Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were fed the LK diet. The HK diet did not reduce blood pressure, as measured by telemetry, in the SHRSP. Cerebral ischemia was induced by middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion. The resultant infarct was smaller in the HK-SHRSP than in the LK-SHRSP: 55.1 ± 6.3 vs. 71.4 ± 2.4% of the hemisphere infarcted (P < 0.05). Infarcts were smaller in WKY rats (33.5 ± 4.8%) than in LK-SHRSP or HK-SHRSP. The vessel wall of MCAs from LK-SHRSP was hypertrophied compared with WKY rats; this was reversed in HK-SHRSP. RT-PCR analysis of the cerebral vessels showed that expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptors-α and -β, epidermal growth factor receptor, and collagen I and III was increased in the vessels from LK-SHRSP compared with WKY rats and reduced in HK-SHRSP. These results suggest that potassium supplementation provides neuroprotection in a model of ischemic stroke independent of blood pressure and possibly through changes in vascular structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R415-R422
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Growth factors
  • Middle cerebral artery occlusion
  • Smooth muscle cells
  • Spontaneously hypertensive rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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