Silent infarcts (SI) are subcortical cerebral infarcts occurring in the absence of typical ischemia symptoms and are linked to cognitive decline and dementia development. There are no approved treatments for SI. One potential treatment is tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator. It is critical to establish whether treatments effectively target the early consequences of SI to avoid progression to complete injury. We induced SI in the dorsal hippocampal CA1 of rats and assessed whether tamoxifen is protective 24 h later against cognitive deficits and injury responses including gliosis, apoptosis, inflammation and changes in estrogen receptors (ERs). SI led to subtle cognitive impairment on the object place task, an effect ameliorated by tamoxifen administration. SI did not lead to detectable hippocampal cell loss but increased apoptosis, astrogliosis, microgliosis and inflammation. Tamoxifen protected against the effects of SI on all measures except microgliosis. SI increased ERα and decreased ERβ in the hippocampus, which were mitigated by tamoxifen. Exploratory data analyses using scatterplot matrices and principal component analysis indicated that SI rats given tamoxifen were indistinguishable from controls. Further, SI rats were significantly different from all other groups, an effect associated with low levels of ERα and increased apoptosis, gliosis, inflammation, ERβ, and time spent with the unmoved object. The results demonstrate that tamoxifen is protective against the early cellular and cognitive consequences of hippocampal SI 24 h after injury. Tamoxifen mitigates apoptosis, gliosis, and inflammation and normalization of ER levels in the CA1, leading to improved cognitive outcomes after hippocampal SI.
- Silent infarct