Remote ischemic preconditioning is an emerging concept for stroke treatment, but its protection against focal stroke has not been established. We tested whether remote preconditioning, performed in the ipsilateral hind limb, protects against focal stroke and explored its protective parameters. Stroke was generated by a permanent occlusion of the left distal middle cerebral artery (MCA) combined with a 30 minute occlusion of the bilateral common carotid arteries (CCA) in male rats. Limb preconditioning was generated by 5 or 15 minute occlusion followed with the same period of reperfusion of the left hind femoral artery, and repeated for 2 or 3 cycles. Infarct was measured 2 days later. The results showed that rapid preconditioning with 3 cycles of 15 minutes performed immediately before stroke reduced infarct size from 47.7±7.6% of control ischemia to 9.8±8.6%; at 2 cycles of 15 minutes, infarct was reduced to 24.7±7.3%; at 2 cycles of 5 minutes, infarct was not reduced. Delayed preconditioning with 3 cycles of 15 minutes conducted 2 days before stroke also reduced infarct to 23.0 ±10.9%, but with 2 cycles of 15 minutes it offered no protection. The protective effects at these two therapeutic time windows of remote preconditioning are consistent with those of conventional preconditioning, in which the preconditioning ischemia is induced in the brain itself. Unexpectedly, intermediate preconditioning with 3 cycles of 15 minutes performed 12 hours before stroke also reduced infarct to 24.7±4.7%, which contradicts the current dogma for therapeutic time windows for the conventional preconditioning that has no protection at this time point. In conclusion, remote preconditioning performed in one limb protected against ischemic damage after focal cerebral ischemia.
Keywords: preconditioning, remote preconditioning, limb preconditioning, cerebral ischemia, focal ischemia