Silent infarcts (SI) are subcortical cerebral infarcts that occur in the absence of clinical symptoms commonly associated with ischemia and are linked to dementia development. Little is known about the pathophysiology underlying the cognitive dysfunction associated with SI, and few studies have examined the early cellular responses and neurobiological underpinnings. We induced SI in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats using an infusion of endothelin-1 in the CA1 dorsal hippocampus. Twenty-four hours later, we assessed cognition using the hippocampal-dependent object place recognition task. We also examined whether the resulting cognitive effects were associated with common markers of ischemia, specifically cell and synapse loss, gliosis, and inflammation, using histology and immunohistochemistry. Hippocampal SI led to subtle cognitive impairment on the object place recognition task 24-hours post-injury. This was characterized by a significant difference in exploration proportion relative to a pre-injury baseline and a positive association between time spent with both the moved and unmoved objects. SI did not result in any detectable cell or synaptophysin loss, but did increase apoptosis, gliosis and inflammation in the CA1. Principal component analysis indicated the main variables associated with hippocampal SI included increased time spent with the unmoved object, gliosis, apoptosis and inflammation as well as decreased exploration proportion and CA1 cells. Our data demonstrate that hippocampal SI can lead to cognitive dysfunction 24-hours after injury. Further, this appears to be driven by early degenerative processes including apoptosis, gliosis and inflammation, suggesting that these may be targets for early interventions treating hippocampal SI and its cognitive consequences.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience