Murine chronic cerebral hypoperfusion (CCH) results in white matter (WM) injury and behavioral deficits. Pericytes influence blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity and cerebral blood flow. Under hypoxic conditions, pericytes detach from perivascular locations increasing vessel permeability and neuronal injury. This study characterizes the time course of BBB dysfunction and pericyte coverage following murine experimental CCH secondary to bilateral carotid artery stenosis (BCAS). Mice underwent BCAS or sham operation. On post-procedure days 1, 3, 7 and 30, corpus callosum BBB permeability was characterized using Evans blue (EB) extravasation and IgG staining and pericyte coverage/count was calculated. The BCAS cohort demonstrated increased EB extravasation on postoperative days 1 ( p = 0.003) 3 ( p = 0.002), and 7 ( p = 0.001) when compared to sham mice. Further, EB extravasation was significantly greater ( p = 0.05) at day 3 than at day 30 in BCAS mice. BCAS mice demonstrated a nadir in pericyte coverage and count on post-operative day 3 ( p < 0.05, compared to day 7, day 30 and sham). Decreased pericyte coverage/count and increased BBB permeability are most pronounced on postoperative day 3 following murine CCH. This precedes any notable WM injury or behavioral deficits.
Keywords: Carotid stenosis; hypoperfusion; pericyte; permeability; white matter.