Genomic approach to selective vulnerability of the hippocampus in brain ischemia-hypoxia

Rainald Schmidt-Kastner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Transient global ischemia selectively damages neurons in specific brain areas. A reproducible pattern of selective vulnerability is observed in the dorsal hippocampus of rodents where ischemic damage typically affects neurons in the CA1 area while sparing neurons in CA3 and granule cells. The "neuronal factors" underlying the differential vulnerability of CA1 versus CA3 have been of great interest. This review first provides on overview of the histological pattern of ischemic-hypoxic damage, the phenomenon of delayed neuronal death, the necrosis-apoptosis discussion, and multiple molecular mechanisms studied in the hippocampus. Subsequently, genomic studies of basal gene expression in CA1 and CA3 are summarized and changes in gene expression in response to global brain ischemia are surveyed. A formal analysis is presented for the overlap between genes expressed under basal conditions in the hippocampus and genes responding to ischemia-hypoxia in general. A possible role of the elusive vascular factors in selective vulnerability is reviewed, and a gene set for angiogenesis is then shown to be enriched in the CA3 gene set. A survey of selective vulnerability in the human hippocampus in relation to genomic studies in ischemia-hypoxia is presented, and neurodegeneration genes with high expression in CA1 are highlighted (e.g. WFS1). It is concluded that neuronal factors dominate the selective vulnerability of CA1 but that vascular factors also deserve more systematic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-79
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2015


  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain


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