Neurofunctional assessment in a neonatal rat model of focal cerebral ischemia following caffeine exposure.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


While much is known about perinatal brain injury as a result of focal cerebral ischemia (FCI), there is a need for diagnostic criteria to detect the variable symptomology as well as effective treatments following injury. There are currently no effective treatments for focal cerebral ischemia in the developing neonate. Recent evidence suggests that caffeine citrate may offer neuroprotection for ischemic injury. I utilized a novel neonatal rat model of focal cerebral ischemia (FCI) to assess the behavioral outcomes as well as determine the effects of caffeine citrate on these deficits. FCI animals were significantly impaired in weight gain (p<0.0005), startle response (p<0.0005), and righting reflex at P10 (p=0.007). Caffeine-treated FCI animals exhibited a marked weight decrease (p<0.0005) compared to FCI animals treated with saline. No other statistically significant differences with caffeine were found and behavioral data were replicated. The growth impairment shown in caffeine-treated FCI animals may be an increase in endogenous corticosterone, but further investigation is necessary to assess caffeine's efficacy as a potential treatment. Such a dramatic loss in weight for FCI animals treated with caffeine is indicative of a negative potentiation of FCI effects and must be investigated further.