The pathophysiology of vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) is associated with chronic cerebral hypoperfusion (CCH). Increased high-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1), a nonhistone protein involved in injury and inflammation, has been established in the acute phase of CCH. However, the role of HMGB1 in the chronic phase of CCH remains unclear. We developed a novel animal model of CCH with a modified bilateral common carotid artery occlusion (BCCAO) in C57BL/6 mice. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) reduction, the expression of HMGB1 and its proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-α], interleukin [IL]-1β, and IL-6), and brain pathology were assessed. Furthermore, we evaluated the effect of HMGB1 suppression through bilateral intrahippocampus injection with the CRISPR/Cas9 knockout plasmid. Three months after CCH induction, CBF decreased to 30–50% with significant cognitive decline in BCCAO mice. The 7T-aMRI showed hippocampal atrophy, but amyloid positron imaging tomography showed nonsignificant amyloid-beta accumulation. Increased levels of HMGB1, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 were observed 3 months after BCCAO. HMGB1 suppression with CRISPR/Cas9 knockout plasmid restored TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 and attenuated hippocampal atrophy and cognitive decline. We believe that HMGB1 plays a pivotal role in CCH-induced VCI pathophysiology and can be a potential therapeutic target of VCI.
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