Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with an increased risk of stroke and poor outcome, yet the mechanisms underlying this health predicament are unclear. Hypertension, a revolving complication of MetS, disrupts cerebral vasoregulatory mechanisms and increases the susceptibility of the brain to ischemic injury, is more prevalent in postmenopausal women. Emerging evidence suggests that patients with MetS are associated with poor collateral status during acute ischemic stroke. Our recent data showed that female mice with MetS exhibited poor collateral status during stroke and larger stroke size after MCAO. Mice with MetS also have reduced blood flow in penetrating arterioles and impairment in microvascular flow dynamics. Ample evidence links diabetes to impaired vasodilation that is attributable to reduced eNOS phosphorylation; however, the role of eNOS in mediating pial and penetrating arteriole flow after stroke has never been properly addressed. Given the known effect of estrogen on increasing eNOS activity and the fact that T2DM associated reduction in estrogen, it is unclear whether the impaired collateral flow in the aged female mice with MetS is attributed to reduced eNOS activity. Clinical evidence also suggests that MetS induced-hypercoagulability has a greater impact on adverse vascular events in women than in men including the risk of ischemic stroke. Extracellular vesicles (EV) and exosomes are recognized as key players in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and platelet-derived EVs are particularly important in mediating thrombotic events that can potentiate the risk of stroke and worsen blood flow. The proposed study will investigate the causal relationship between reduced blood perfusion and impaired eNOS as well as EV-mediated increase in platelet activation/coagulation in reproductively senescent female mice with MetS. Cutting-edge technology including Doppler Optical Coherence Tomography and Multiphoton Laser Scanning Microscopy will be employed to detect blood flow dynamics in pial and penetrating arterioles as well as capillary vessels, clot and platelet-leukocyte aggregates formation before and after stroke. Transgenic knock-in mice expressing phosphomimetic eNOS will be used to ascertain the role of vasodilation in regulating collateral flow in db/db females. The role of EVs in increasing clotting and causing collateral failure will be tested in vivo by injecting Isolated EVs into the jugular vein of MetS and normal mice. The proposed studies in this application will provide insights into the complex biology of poor blood perfusion especially in women with MetS with proof-of-concept data for future development of collateral therapy.

Public Health Relevance

Women with metabolic syndrome, i.e. those who with obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and/or type II diabetes, are at risk for stroke and are likely to suffer from poor outcome after stroke. The poor outcome is partially related to their predisposition in adverse vascular events related to increased risk in hypertension and blood coagulation. Some circulating factors among these women may also make them resistant to drugs used to dissolve clots. Often the severity of stroke is inversely correlated to the degree of compensation of blood through a complex network of circulation system called the collateral circulation, which comes to rescue when there is insufficient amount of blood supply in the brain, particularly in areas where people commonly experience a stroke. Clinical studies suggest that the status of collateral flow is negatively affected in patients with metabolic syndrome. Although young and healthy women are usually protected by the female hormone estrogen against vascular problems, diabetic women are reportedly to have less estrogen, thus become more prone to increased clotting and may respond poorly to stroke therapy that aimed to dissolve blood clots. Our recent experimental studies suggest that the increased clotting tendency in the diabetic female mice is related to small particles secreted from cells into the blood stream. Using an animal model of stroke in genetically altered mice with type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, we propose to study the underlying mechanisms of poor blood flow compensation after a stroke insult in these aged female mice with metabolic syndrome, especially those related to the small secreted particles. Our data will offer great insight from a vascular perspective and improve clinical practice for women with metabolic syndrome who are at risk for stroke.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Acute Neural Injury and Epilepsy Study Section (ANIE)
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Koenig, James I
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Northern California Institute Research & Education
San Francisco
United States
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