Cerebral ischemic stroke causes injury to brain tissue characterized by a complex cascade of neuronal and vascular events. Imaging during early stages of its development allows prediction of tissue infarction and penumbra, so that optimal intervention can be determined in order to salvage brain function impairment. Therefore, there is a critical need for novel imaging techniques that can characterize brain injury in the earliest phases of ischemic stroke. This study examined optical coherence tomography (OCT) for imaging acute injury in experimental ischemic stroke in vivo. Based on endogenous optical scattering signals provided by OCT imaging, we have developed a single, integrated imaging platform enabling the measurement of changes in blood perfusion, blood flow, erythrocyte velocity, and light attenuation within cortical tissue, during focal cerebral ischemia in a mouse model. During the acute phase (from 5 minutes to the first few hours following blood occlusion), the multi-parametric OCT imaging revealed multiple hemodynamic and tissue scattering responses in vivo, including cerebral blood flow deficits, capillary non-perfusion, displacement of penetrating vessels, and increased light attenuation in the cortical tissue at risk that are spatially correlated with the infarct core, as determined by postmortem staining with triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC). The use of multi-parametric OCT imaging may aid in the comprehensive evaluation of ischemic lesions during the early stages of stroke, thereby providing essential knowledge for guiding treatment decisions.
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