Obesity increases blood pressure, cerebral vascular remodeling, and severity of stroke in the Zucker rat.

Jessica M. Osmond, James D. Mintz, Brian Dalton, David W. Stepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Obesity is a risk factor for stroke, but the mechanisms by which obesity increases stroke risk are unknown. Because microvascular architecture contributes to the outcome of stroke, we hypothesized that middle cerebral arteries (MCAs) from obese Zucker rats (OZRs) undergo inward remodeling and develop increased myogenic tone compared with those in lean Zucker rats (LZRs). We further hypothesized that OZRs have an increased infarct after cerebral ischemia and that changes in vascular structure and function correlate with the development of hypertension in OZRs. Blood pressure was measured by telemetry in LZRs and OZRs from 6 to 17 weeks of age. Vessel structure and function were assessed in isolated MCAs. Stroke damage was assessed after ischemia was induced for 60 minutes followed by 24 hours of reperfusion. Although mean arterial pressure was similar between young rats (6 to 8 weeks old), mean arterial pressure was higher in adult (14 to 17 weeks old) OZRs than in LZRs. MCAs from OZRs had a smaller lumen diameter and increased myogenic vasoconstriction compared with those from LZRs. After ischemia, infarction was 58% larger in OZRs than in LZRs. Before the development of hypertension, MCA myogenic reactivity and lumen diameter, as well as infarct size, were similar between young LZRs and OZRs. Our results indicate that the MCAs of OZRs undergo structural remodeling and that these rats have greater cerebral injury after cerebral ischemia. These cerebrovascular changes correlate with the development of hypertension and suggest that the increased blood pressure may be the major determinant for stroke risk in obese individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-386
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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