Translational Stroke Research

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 402–412 | Cite as

Low Oxygen Post Conditioning as an Efficient Non-pharmacological Strategy to Promote Motor Function After Stroke

  • Giovanni Pietrogrande
  • Katarzyna Zalewska
  • Zidan Zhao
  • Sarah J. Johnson
  • Michael Nilsson
  • Frederick R. WalkerEmail author
Original Article


Low oxygen post conditioning (LOPC) has shown promising results in terms of neuroprotection after stroke, but the effects on motor function have not been considered. Cortical stroke targeting the motor and sensory cortex was induced by photothrombotic occlusion and after 48 h allocated to LOPC (11% O2) for 2 weeks. Motor impairment was assessed using the cylinder and grid walk tests during the exposure period and for two further weeks upon completion of the intervention. Neuroprotection was evaluated by histological and molecular analysis at two time points. Two weeks of LOPC was sufficient to significantly reduce motor deficits and tissue loss after stroke. This functional improvement was associated with increased capillary density, enhanced levels of BDNF, decreased neuronal loss and decreased microglia activation. These improvements, in most instances, were maintained up to 2 weeks after the end of the treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that LOPC induces a persistent improvement in motor function and neuroprotection after stroke, and in doing so provides evidence to support a case for considering taking LOPC forward to early stage clinical research.


Stroke Motor function Neuroprotection BDNF Hypoxia Angiogenesis Inflammation 


Authors’ Contributions

Experiments were designed by GP, MN and FRW and performed by GP, KZ and ZZ. Manuscript was written by GP and FRW and edited by GP, SJ, MN and FRW.


This study was supported by the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Faculty of Health and Medicine Pilot Grant and The University of Newcastle, Australia.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All experiments were conducted in accordance with the New South Wales Animals Research Act (1985) and the Australian Code of Practice for the use of animals for scientific purposes.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All experiments were approved by the University of Newcastle Animal Care and Ethics Committee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy and Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain InjuryUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Hunter Medical Research InstituteNew Lambton HeightsAustralia
  3. 3.School of Electrical Engineering and ComputingUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  4. 4.Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain InjuryUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  5. 5.NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence Stroke Rehabilitation and Brain RecoveryHeidelbergAustralia

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