Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is an important cause of stroke, cognitive decline and vascular dementia (VaD). It is associated with diffuse white matter abnormalities and small deep cerebral ischemic infarcts. The molecular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of SVD are unclear. As hypertension is a major risk factor for developing SVD, Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR) are considered an appropriate experimental model for SVD. Prior work suggested an imbalance between the number of blood microvessels and astrocytes at the level of the neurovascular unit in 2-month-old SHR, leading to neuronal hypoxia in the brain of 9-month-old animals. To identify genes and pathways involved in the development of SVD, we compared the gene expression profile in the cortex of 2 and 9-month-old of SHR with age-matched normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats using microarray-based technology. The results revealed significant differences in expression of genes involved in energy and lipid metabolisms, mitochondrial functions, oxidative stress and ischemic responses between both groups. These results strongly suggest that SHR suffer from chronic hypoxia, and therefore are unable to tolerate ischemia-like conditions, and are more vulnerable to highenergy needs than WKY. This molecular analysis gives new insights about pathways accounting for the development of SVD.
Keywords: cDNA microarrays, energy metabolism, hypoxia, small vessel disease, SHR, WKY, Wistar Kyoto, microarray-based technology, lacunar, microbleeds, leukoaraiosis, ntraparenchymatous, cerebrocortical, CBF, venules
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