Ultrastructural changes in cerebral pericytes and astrocytes of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats.
We examined the ultrastructure of cerebral pericytes and astrocytes in 20 normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats and 60 asymptomatic stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats killed at 4-52 weeks of age. Another 30 stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats were killed soon after they showed symptoms of stroke. We found two kinds of pericytes around the capillaries: granular pericytes and filamentous pericytes. Granular pericytes possibly serve as scavenger cells in the central nervous system and became active and grew in size with time. In contrast, filamentous pericytes degenerated during the development of hypertension. Degeneration of the filamentous pericytes was involved in an increase of endothelial permeability. Increased permeability caused focal and then circumferential swelling of the astrocytes around the capillaries. Swelling of the astrocytes seemed to accelerate the production of attachment plaques. Following this increase in the number of attachment plaques, numerous astrocytic filaments were produced within the cytoplasm. As a result, fibrous astrocytes were fully developed. Adjacent to the fibrous astrocytes we detected opening of the interendothelial junctions as well as dead neurons. From these observations we propose that astrocytes perform the main function in trophic interactions among cerebral endothelial cells, astrocytes, and neurons and that dysfunction of astrocytes disturbs the neural environment, resulting in neuronal death.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association