Ischemic stroke results from arterial occlusion and can cause irreversible brain injury. A non-human primate (NHP) model of ischemic stroke was previously developed to investigate its pathophysiology and for efficacy testing of therapeutic candidates; however, fine motor impairment remains to be well-characterized. We evaluated hand motor function in a cynomolgus monkey model of ischemic stroke. Endovascular transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) with an angiographic microcatheter induced cerebral infarction. In vivo magnetic resonance imaging mapped and measured the ischemia-induced infarct lesion. In vivo diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the stroke lesion to assess the neuroplastic changes and fiber tractography demonstrated three-dimensional patterns in the corticospinal tract 12 weeks after MCAO. The hand dexterity task (HDT) was used to evaluate fine motor movement of upper extremity digits. The HDT was modified for a home cage-based training system, instead of conventional chair restraint training. The lesion was localized in the middle cerebral artery territory, including the sensorimotor cortex. Maximum infarct volume was exhibited over the first week after MCAO, which progressively inhibited ischemic core expansion, manifested by enhanced functional recovery of the affected hand over 12 weeks after MCAO. The total performance time decreased with increasing success rate for both hands on the HDT. Compensatory strategies and retrieval failure improved in the chronic phase after stroke. Our findings demonstrate the recovery of fine motor skill after stroke, and outline the behavioral characteristics and features of functional disorder of NHP stroke model, providing a basis for assessing hand motor function after stroke.
Keywords: Dexterity; Diffusion tensor imaging; Functional recovery; Hand function; Ischemic stroke; Magnetic resonance imaging.