Translational stroke research

Strain differences in fatigue and depression after experimental stroke.

PMID 24916273


Fatigue and depression are common symptoms after stroke. Animal models of poststroke fatigue (PSF) and poststroke depression (PSD) would facilitate the study of these symptoms. Spontaneous locomotor activity is as an objective measure of fatigue and learned helplessness an accepted correlate of depression. We used different rat strains to evaluate stroke-induced changes in behavior in hopes that interstrain differences would provide insights into the biological basis of these symptoms. Male Lewis, Wistar, and Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats underwent experimental stroke. Spontaneous activity was assessed continually after stroke (for up to 50 days). In a subset of animals, the forced swim test was performed prior to and 1 month after stroke to assess learned helplessness; blood was obtained at sacrifice for cytokine assay. Stroke induced strain-related differences in activity; Lewis rats increased spontaneous activity during the dark cycle, while Wistar and SD rats increased activity during the light cycle. The velocity of movement decreased during the dark cycle in Wistar and SD rats and during the light cycle in Lewis rats. Stroke also led to an increase in learned helplessness in Lewis rats. In summary, different patterns of behaviors emerge in different rat strains after stroke. Lewis rats displayed behavior consistent with depression but not fatigue, while Wistar and SD rats displayed behavior consistent with fatigue but not depression. These data argue that PSF and PSD are different biological constructs and suggest that analysis of strain-related differences may provide insight into symptom pathophysiology.