The arctic ground squirrel brain is resistant to injury from cardiac arrest during euthermia

Stroke. 2006 May;37(5):1261-5. doi: 10.1161/01.STR.0000217409.60731.38. Epub 2006 Mar 30.


Background and purpose: Hetereothermic mammals tolerate hypoxia during euthermy and torpor, and evidence suggests this tolerance may extend beyond hypoxia to cerebral ischemia. During hibernation, CA1 hippocampal neurons endure extreme fluctuations in cerebral blood flow during transitions into and out of torpor as well as reductions in cerebral blood flow during torpor. In vitro studies likewise show evidence of ischemia tolerance in hippocampal slices harvested from euthermic ground squirrels; however, no studies have investigated tolerance in a clinically relevant model of in vivo global cerebral ischemia. The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that the euthermic Arctic ground squirrel (AGS; Spermophillus parryii) is resistant to injury from asphyxial cardiac arrest (CA).

Methods: Estrous-matched female rats were used as a positive control. Female euthermic AGS and rats were subjected to 8-minute CA. At the end of 7 days of reperfusion, AGS and rats were fixed for histopathological assessment.

Results: In rats subjected to CA, the number of ischemic neurons was significantly higher (P<0.001) compared with control rats in hippocampus and striatum. Cortex was mildly injured. Surprisingly, neuronal counts in AGS were not significantly different in CA and control groups in these brain regions.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that AGS are remarkably tolerant to global cerebral ischemia during euthermia. A better understanding of the mechanisms by which AGS tolerate severe reductions in blood flow during euthermia may provide novel neuroprotective strategies that may translate into significant improvements in human patient outcomes after CA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Arctic Regions
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Heart Arrest / physiopathology*
  • Hibernation*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Rats
  • Sciuridae