Experimental models of brain ischemia: a review of techniques, magnetic resonance imaging, and investigational cell-based therapies.
Canazza A., Minati L., Boffano C., Parati E., Binks S.
Stroke continues to be a significant cause of death and disability worldwide. Although major advances have been made in the past decades in prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, enormous challenges remain in the way of translating new therapeutic approaches from bench to bedside. Thrombolysis, while routinely used for ischemic stroke, is only a viable option within a narrow time window. Recently, progress in stem cell biology has opened up avenues to therapeutic strategies aimed at supporting and replacing neural cells in infarcted areas. Realistic experimental animal models are crucial to understand the mechanisms of neuronal survival following ischemic brain injury and to develop therapeutic interventions. Current studies on experimental stroke therapies evaluate the efficiency of neuroprotective agents and cell-based approaches using primarily rodent models of permanent or transient focal cerebral ischemia. In parallel, advancements in imaging techniques permit better mapping of the spatial-temporal evolution of the lesioned cortex and its functional responses. This review provides a condensed conceptual review of the state of the art of this field, from models and magnetic resonance imaging techniques through to stem cell therapies.