Multiparity improves outcomes after cerebral ischemia in female mice despite features of increased metabovascular risk [Neuroscience]
Females show a varying degree of ischemic sensitivity throughout their lifespan, which is not fully explained by hormonal or genetic factors. Epidemiological data suggest that sex-specific life experiences such as pregnancy increase stroke risk. This work evaluated the role of parity on stroke outcome. Age-matched virgin (i.e., nulliparous) and multiparous mice were subjected to 60 min of reversible middle cerebral artery occlusion and evaluated for infarct volume, behavioral recovery, and inflammation. Using an established mating paradigm, fetal microchimeric cells present in maternal mice were also tracked after parturition and stroke. Parity was associated with sedentary behavior, weight gain, and higher triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The multiparous brain exhibited features of immune suppression, with dampened baseline microglial activity. After acute stroke, multiparous mice had smaller infarcts, less glial activation, and less behavioral impairment in the critical recovery window of 72 h. Behavioral recovery was significantly better in multiparous females compared with nulliparous mice 1 mo after stroke. This recovery was accompanied by an increase in poststroke angiogenesis that was correlated with improved performance on sensorimotor and cognitive tests. Multiparous mice had higher levels of VEGF, both at baseline and after stroke. GFP+ fetal cells were detected in the blood and migrated to areas of tissue injury where they adopted endothelial morphology 30 d after injury. Reproductive experience has profound and complex effects on neurovascular health and disease. Inclusion of female mice with reproductive experience in preclinical studies may better reflect the life-long patterning of ischemic stroke risk in women.
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