To specify targets for an ischemic preconditioning paradigm (ischemic tolerance), c-fos expressions in ischemic (induced by 10 min bilateral carotid-occlusions subsequent to coagulation of vertebral arteries) and preconditioned rats (treated for 4 min carotid-occlusions 72 h before ischemia) were compared in 12 forebrain areas/nuclei. Fos immunostaining was applied to serial sections of the forebrain and the density (cell number/area measured) of Fos-immunopositive (Fos+) neurons, as well as their percentile changes were determined in five hippocampal and seven extrahippocampal areas/nuclei of ischemic and preconditioned rats. The ratio of counts found in ischemic over control animals showed several fold increase of Fos+ cells in the three layers (granule cell, molecular and polymorphic) of the dentate gyrus, CA3 and CA1 pyramidal neurons, as well as in thalamic and hypothalamic nuclei and limbic cortical areas. In contrast, preconditioning did not alter c-fos expressions significantly in the extrahippocampal brain areas investigated. These results strengthen the hypothesis that the hippocampal and dentate neurons are more susceptible to ischemic tolerance than cells in other brain regions. In fact stress-response and induction of ischemic tolerance in different forebrain areas can be distinguished.
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