Object. Data in the present study demonstrate that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) induces ischemic tolerance against delayed neuronal death (DND) of hippocampal neurons following an otherwise lethal ischemic insult.
Methods. Various regimens of rTMS were delivered to adult gerbils at various times prior to an episode of ischemia induced by transient (5-minute) bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) occlusion. The extent of DND in the CA1 region of the hippocampus was assessed quantitatively 7 days after the transient ischemic episode.
When rTMS was delivered 2 to 5 days prior to bilateral CCA occlusion, DND was substantially attenuated; delivery of rTMS 12 to 24 hours prior to occlusion induced partial tolerance. In the group of animals that had received stimulation 2 days prior to occlusion, neuron density in the CA1 sector was significantly higher (three gerbils, 210.33, 86.01% of normal) than in the group that experienced ischemia only (three gerbils, 10.66, 4.36% of normal). A similar degree of neuron sparing occurred when stimulation was delivered 3, 4, or 5 days prior to occlusion. Note that rTMS was effective when it was delivered at frequencies of 25 and 50 Hz. Stimulation at 25 Hz for 128 seconds (3200 pulses) was more effective than stimulation at 50 Hz for 64 seconds (3200 pulses) or 128 seconds (6400 pulses), however.
Conclusions. Noninvasive rTMS represents an important tool for exploring the mechanisms of ischemic tolerance and preventing ischemic neuronal damage.