Quantitative evaluation of blood-brain barrier permeability following middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats

Brain Res. 1996 Nov 11;739(1-2):88-96. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(96)00815-3.


A sensitive quantitative fluorescence method was used to explore the time course and regional pattern of blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). Male Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized with halothane and subjected to 2 h of temporary MCAo by retrograde insertion of an intraluminal nylon suture, coated with poly-L-lysine, through the external carotid artery into the internal carotid artery and MCA. Damage to the BBB was judged by extravasation of Evans Blue (EB) dye, which was administered either 2, 3, 24 or 48 h after onset of MCAo. Fluorometric quantitation of EB was performed 1 or 2 h later in six brain regions. Cerebral infarction volumes were quantitated from histopathological material at 72 h. EB extravasation first became grossly visible in the ipsilateral caudoputamen and neocortex following 3 h of MCAo, was grossly unapparent at 24-26 h, and was maximal at 48-50 h. Fluorescence quantitation confirmed that BBB opening was absent at 2-3 h but present at all later times. In the hemisphere ipsilateral to MCAo, a 179% mean increase in extravasation of EB (compared to sham rats) was measured at 4 h, 407% at 5 h, 311% at 26 h and 264% at 50 h. (in each case, P < 0.05 vs. sham). The volume of infarcted tissue at 72 h in this model was 163.6 +/- 7.7 mm3. Our results indicate that an initial, acute disruption of the BBB occurs between 3 and 5 h following MCAo, and that a later, more widespread increase in regional BBB permeability is present at 48 h. Regional measurement of Evans Blue extravasation offers a precise means of quantitating BBB disruption in focal cerebral ischemia; this method will be of considerable utility in assessing the BBB-protective properties of pharmacological agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Cerebral Arterial Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Coloring Agents
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Evans Blue
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials
  • Male
  • Polylysine
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Suture Techniques


  • Coloring Agents
  • Polylysine
  • Evans Blue