Poststroke cognitive impairment and hippocampal neurovascular remodeling: The impact of diabetes and sex

Rebecca Ward, John Paul Valenzuela, Weiguo Li, Guangkuo Dong, Susan C. Fagan, Adviye Ergul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Diabetes increases the risk and severity of cognitive impairment, especially after ischemic stroke. Pathological remodeling of the cerebrovasculature has been postulated to contribute to poor neuronal repair and worsened cognitive deficits in diabetes. However, little is known about the effect of diabetes on the vascularization of hippocampus, a domain critical to memory and learning. Therefore, we had two aims for this study: 1) to determine the impact of diabetes on hippocampal neurovascular remodeling and the resulting cognitive impairment after stroke using two models with varying disease severity, and 2) to compare the effects of ischemia on hippocampal neurovascular injury in diabetic male and female animals. Stroke was induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) by either the suture or embolic method in control and diabetic age-matched male and female Wistar rats. Hippocampal neuronal density, vascular architecture, and microglial activation as well as cognitive outcomes were measured. Embolic MCAO induced greater neuronal degeneration, pathological vascularization, microglial activation, and cognitive impairment in diabetes as compared with control animals or 60-min MCAO. Although diabetic males had lower neuronal density at baseline, diabetic females had more neurodegeneration after stroke. Control animals recovered cognitive function by day 14 after stroke; diabetic animals showed deficits regardless of sex. These results suggest that mechanisms underlying cognitive decline in diabetes may differ in males and females and provide further insight to the impact of diabetes on stroke severity and poststroke cognitive impairment. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The present study is the first to provide comparative information on the effects of diabetes and ischemia on cognitive outcomes in both sexes while also evaluating the neurovascular structure in the hippocampus, a critical region for cognitive and memory-related tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1402-H1413
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 29 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood vessels
  • Cognition
  • Memory
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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