White matter lesions, cerebral inflammation and cognitive function in a mouse model of cerebral hypoperfusion

Hagar Ben-Ari, Tzuri Lifschytz, Gilly Wolf, Amihai Rigbi, Tamar Blumenfeld-Katzir, Tirzah Kreisel Merzel, Nickolay Koroukhov, Amit Lotan, Bernard Lerer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Development of specific treatments for vascular dementia requires appropriate animal models. Bilateral carotid artery stenosis (BCAS) employs metal coils wrapped around both common carotid arteries to induce cerebral hypoperfusion, white matter lesions and memory impairment in mice. We focused on the relationship of memory impairment induced by BCAS to white matter lesions demonstrated by ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We found a significant effect of BCAS on perceptual learning in the novel object recognition test and on number of errors and latency to platform in the radial arm water maze. MRI analysis revealed a significant effect of BCAS on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters in white matter areas. After correction for multiple testing, significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values were found in the corpus callosum and anterior commissure and significantly higher mean diffusivity values in the internal capsule. Focusing on the corpus callosum, we found that correlations between FA and number of errors on the RAWM test were significant after controlling for treatment. We further found that the effects of BCAS on cognition were partly mediated by its effects on white matter integrity. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrated significantly higher microglia cell density and soma size in the corpus callosum of BCAS mice compared to controls, and these parameters were correlated with the imaging data. The results of this study indicate that cognitive deficits induced by cerebral hypoperfusion due to BCAS result in part from microglia activation and disruption of white matter integrity, supporting the face and construct validity of this unique model of vascular dementia.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - 15 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Microglia
  • Vascular cognitive impairment
  • Vascular dementia
  • White matter lesions


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