Chronic stress exacerbates neuronal loss associated with secondary neurodegeneration and suppresses microglial-like cells following focal motor cortex ischemia in the mouse Academic Article uri icon


  • Post-stroke patients describe suffering from persistent and unremitting levels of distress. Using an experimental model of focal cortical ischemia in adult male C57BL/6 mice, we examined whether exposure to chronic stress could modify the development of secondary thalamic neurodegeneration (STND), which is commonly reported to be associated with impaired functional recovery. We were particularly focused on the modulatory role of microglia-like cells, as several clinical studies have linked microglial activation to the development of STND. One month following the induction of cortical ischemia we identified that numbers of microglial-like cells, as well as putative markers of microglial structural reorganization (Iba-1), complement processing (CD11b), phagocytosis (CD68), and antigen presentation (MHC-II) were all significantly elevated in response to occlusion. We further identified that these changes co-occurred with a decrease in the numbers of mature neurons within the thalamus. Occluded animals that were also exposed to chronic stress exhibited significantly lower levels of Iba-1 positive cells and a reduced expression of Iba-1 and CD11b compared to the 'occlusion-alone' group. Interestingly, the dampened expression of microglial/monocyte markers observed in stressed animals was associated with significant additional loss of neurons. These findings indicate that the process of STND can be negatively modified, potentially in a microglial dependent manner, by exposure to chronic stress.


  • Jones, Kimberley A
  • Zouikr, Ihssane
  • Patience, Madeleine
  • Clarkson, Andrew N
  • Isgaard, Jörgen
  • Johnson, Sarah J
  • Spratt, Neil
  • Nilsson, Michael
  • Walker, Frederick R

publication date

  • 2015

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