Septo-hippocampal deafferentation protects CA1 neurons against ischemic injury.
Buchan AM., Pulsinelli WA.
Excessive synaptic excitation caused by transient cerebral ischemia has been proposed to explain the greater vulnerability of specific neuronal populations to ischemic injury. We tested this hypothesis in rats by cutting, alone or in combination, the afferent fibers that travel in the fimbria/fornix, the perforant, or the Schäffer collateral pathways and innervate the right CA1 hippocampus. Seven to twelve days later the animals were subjected to 30 min of reversible forebrain ischemia. Irreversible damage to the CA1 neurons was assessed with the light microscope after 70-120 h of cerebral reperfusion. The left, unlesioned hippocampus served as a control. Simultaneous cutting of the 3 major afferent pathways significantly reduced CA1 neuronal damage compared to the unlesioned side (P less than 0.001) or to sham-lesioned controls (P less than 0.001). Selective lesions of the fimbria/fornix but not the perforant or the Schäffer collateral pathways also protected against ischemic CA1 damage. These data indicate that afferent fiber input modulates hippocampal damage caused by ischemia, but they are inconsistent with the hypothesis that excitatory afferent fibers, travelling in either the perforant or the Schäffer collateral pathways alone, play a major role. Neurotransmitters, other than those activating excitatory amino acid receptors or yet-to-be-identified synaptic events, may be invoked to explain the spatial and temporal sensitivity of hippocampal CA1 neurons to ischemia.