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Protein-Energy Malnutrition Alters Thermoregulatory Homeostasis and the Response to Brain Ischemia

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Co-existing protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), characterized by deficits in both protein and energy status, impairs functional outcome following global ischemia and has been associated with increased reactive gliosis. Since temperature is a key determinant of brain damage following an ischemic insult, the objective was to investigate whether alterations in post-ischemic temperature regulation contribute to PEM-induced reactive gliosis following ischemia. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (190-280g) were assigned to either control diet (18% protein) or PEM induced by feeding a low protein diet (2% protein) for 7 days prior to either global ischemia or sham surgery. There was a rapid disruption in thermoregulatory function in rats fed the low protein diet as assessed by continuous recording of core temperature with bio-electrical sensor transmitters. Both daily temperature fluctuation and mean temperature increased within the first 24 hours, and these remained significantly elevated throughout the 7 day pre-ischemic period (p < 0.027). In the immediate post-surgical period, PEM decreased body temperature to a greater extent than that in well-nourished controls (p = 0.003). The increase in daily temperature fluctuation caused by PEM persisted throughout the 7 day post-surgical period (p < 0.001), and this interacted with the effects of global ischemia on days 8 (p = 0.018) and 11 (p = 0.021). The astrocytic and microglial responses induced at 7 days after global ischemia were not influenced by PEM, but this preliminary analysis needs to be confirmed with a more reliable global ischemia model. In conclusion, exposure to a low protein diet rapidly impairs the ability to maintain thermoregulatory homeostasis, and the resultant PEM also diminishes the ability to thermoregulate in response to a challenge. Since temperature regulation is a key determinant of brain injury following ischemia, these findings suggest that the pathophysiology of brain injury could be altered in stroke victims with coexisting PEM.

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Keywords: Global brain ischemia; Homeostasis; protein-energy malnutrition; rat; reactive gliosis; thermoregulation; two-vessel occlusion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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  • Current Neurovascular Research (CNR) provides a cross platform for the publication of scientifically rigorous research that addresses disease mechanisms of both neuronal and vascular origins in neuroscience. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of novel and pioneering original work as well as timely neuroscience research reviews in the disciplines of cell developmental disorders, plasticity, and degeneration that bridge the gap between basic science research and clinical discovery. CNR emphasizes the elucidation of disease mechanisms, both cellular and molecular, which can impact the development of unique therapeutic strategies for neuronal and vascular disorders.
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