Phosphorylation of the DNA-binding transcription factor, cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB), was immunohistochemically examined in rat brain hippocampal CA1 in order to examine the ischemic vulnerability of this region from the viewpoint of CREB activation. The rat brain had been subjected to 90-min focal ischemia followed by various periods of recirculation. Focal ischemia was induced by occlusion of the middle cerebral artery using the intraluminal suture method. CA1 pyramidal neurons in the sham animals showed definite immunoreactivity with anti-CREB antibody, which binds to both unphosphorylated and phosphorylated CREB, while reactivity with anti-phosphorylated CREB antibody was barely detectable in these neurons. In contrast, at 3.5 h of recirculation, a significant increase in the number of phosphorylated CREB-positive neurons was noted in the CA1 on both sides, and the increase continued until 48 h of recirculation with a tendency for gradual decline. At each period, the ischemic side showed a more marked increase in the number of immunoreactive cells as compared to the nonischemic side. Cresyl violet staining revealed CA1 pyramidal neurons to be maintained intact until 14 day of recirculation, at which time CREB phosphorylation has returned to the control level. Transient global ischemia is known to induce only mild CREB phosphorylation in the CA1 followed by a frank neuronal loss in this region. These data suggest that CREB phosphorylation can be persistently activated in CA1 neurons after focal ischemia and that this phenomenon may be closely associated with protection of these neurons. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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