Illuminating the Effects of Stroke on the Diabetic Brain: Insights From Imaging Neural and Vascular Networks in Experimental Animal Models

Type 1 diabetes is known to cause circulatory problems in the eyes, heart, and limbs, and the brain is no exception. Because of the insidious effects of diabetes on brain circulation, patients with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have an ischemic stroke and are less likely to regain functions that are lost. To provide a more mechanistic understanding of this clinically significant problem, imaging studies have focused on how stroke affects neural and vascular networks in experimental models of type 1 diabetes. The emerging picture is that diabetes leads to maladaptive changes in the cerebrovascular system that ultimately limit neuronal rewiring and recovery of functions after stroke. At the cellular and systems level, diabetes is associated with abnormal cerebral blood flow in surviving brain regions and greater disruption of the blood-brain barrier. The abnormal vascular responses to stroke can be partly attributed to aberrant vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling because genetic or pharmacological inhibition of VEGF signaling can mitigate vascular dysfunction and improve stroke recovery in diabetic animals. These experimental studies offer new insights and strategies for optimizing stroke recovery in diabetic populations.

Diabetes Journal current issue

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