Background and purpose: The classic presentation of chronic (stage III) hemorrhagic stroke lesions is a fluid-filled cavity. In one of the most commonly used animal models of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), we noticed additional solid material within the chronic lesion. We examined the composition of those chronic ICH lesions and compared them with human autopsy cases.
Methods: ICH was induced in rats by the injection of collagenase in the striatum. Tissue sections after hematoma resolution corresponding to 3 different chronic time points—28, 42, and 73 to 85 days post-ICH—were selected. Human autopsy reports at the University Hospital of Zurich were searched between 1990 and 2019 for ICH, and 3 chronic cases were found. The rat and human sections were stained with a variety of histopathologic markers.
Results: Extensive collagenous material was observed in the chronic lesion after hematoma resolution in both the rat model and human autopsy cases. Additional immunostaining revealed that the material consisted primarily of a loose network of collagen 3 intermingled with occasional GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein)-positive processes and collagen 4.
Conclusions: A key feature of the chronic ICH lesion is a loose network of collagen 3. The collagenase rat model reproduces the morphology and composition of the chronic human ICH lesion. While identifying new features of ICH lesion pathology, these results are important for treatment and recovery strategies.
Keywords: cerebral hemorrhage; collagen; hematoma; hydrogels; neuropathology.