Diabetics are two to four times more likely than non-diabetics to suffer a stroke during their lifetime, and their prognosis for recovery from stroke is poor. Diabetes is known to negatively affect blood vessels throughout the body, including the eye, heart, kidney, and limbs, leading to a heightened risk of stroke in diabetics. Poor circulation and peripheral nerve damage can lead to blindness, hearing loss, foot injury and amputation. High blood pressure is common in diabetics and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, little is known about how the vascular changes associated with diabetes affect the brain and contribute to poorer recovery of function following stroke.
Dr. Kelly Tennant's research will determine why diabetics suffer from greater impairments following strokes. She will monitor changes in neurons and blood vessels over time following a stroke in diabetic mice and assess the relationship between these changes and recovered use of the forelimb. Dr. Tennant will employ cutting edge in vivo imaging technologies such as intrinsic optical signal, two-photon, and voltage sensitive dye imaging, combined with behavioural testing of forelimb function.
These experiments will shed light on how neurons and blood vessels of diabetics respond differently to ischemic stroke and how these differences contribute to poor behavioural recovery in diabetic stroke survivors. This research will aid understanding of the greater impairment caused by stroke in diabetic patients and lead towards development of treatments that ameliorate the negative effects of diabetes on the brain.