Transient global forebrain ischaemia was produced in Mongolian gerbils by occluding both common carotid arteries for 10 min followed by 48 h recirculation. Dexamethasone, 5 mg/kg i.p., was given 5 h before the occlusion and every 12 h thereafter. After occlusion an increase in water, sodium and calcium content was found in the parietal cortex and hippocampus, while the concentration of potassium decreased. Exudation of plasma albumin was not found in the brain. The activity of Na+, K+-ATPase decreased in the hippocampus. Morphological signs of cerebral oedema were also observed, both in the CA1 region of the hippocampus and in the cortex. Dexamethasone treatment prevented the accumulation of water, sodium and calcium in the ischaemic brain. It also attenuated the oedematous morphological changes of the blood-brain barrier. Thus dexamethasone treatment may also have therapeutic relevance in the acute, high-risk phase of patients suffering from repetitive, transitoric cerebral ischaemia.
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