Document Type


Publication Date




Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasingly recognized as a stroke risk factor, but its exact relationship with cerebrovascular disease is not well-understood. We investigated the development of cerebral small vessel disease using in vivo and in vitro models of CKD.


CKD was produced in aged C57BL/6J mice using an adenine-induced tubulointerstitial nephritis model. We analyzed brain histology using Prussian blue staining to examine formation of cerebral microhemorrhage (CMH), the hemorrhagic component of small vessel disease and the neuropathological substrate of MRI-demonstrable cerebral microbleeds. In cell culture studies, we examined effects of serum from healthy or CKD patients and gut-derived uremic toxins on brain microvascular endothelial barrier.


CKD was induced in aged C57BL/6J mice with significant increases in both serum creatinine and cystatin C levels (p < 0.0001) without elevation of systolic or diastolic blood pressure. CMH was significantly increased and positively correlated with serum creatinine level (Spearman r = 0.37, p < 0.01). Moreover, CKD significantly increased Iba-1-positive immunoreactivity by 51% (p < 0.001), induced a phenotypic switch from resting to activated microglia, and enhanced fibrinogen extravasation across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) by 34% (p < 0.05). On analysis stratified by sex, the increase in CMH number was more pronounced in male mice and this correlated with greater creatinine elevation in male compared with female mice. Microglial depletion with PLX3397 diet significantly decreased CMH formation in CKD mice without affecting serum creatinine levels. Incubation of CKD serum significantly reduced transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) (p < 0.01) and increased sodium fluorescein permeability (p < 0.05) across the endothelial monolayer. Uremic toxins (i.e., indoxyl sulfate, p-cresyl sulfate, and trimethylamine-N-oxide) in combination with urea and lipopolysaccharide induced a marked drop in TEER compared with the control group (p < 0.0001).


CKD promotes the development of CMH in aged mice independent of blood pressure but directly proportional to the degree of renal impairment. These effects of CKD are likely mediated in part by microglia and are associated with BBB impairment. The latter is likely related to gut-derived bacteria-dependent toxins classically associated with CKD. Overall, these findings demonstrate an important role of CKD in the development of cerebral small vessel disease.


This article was originally published in Journal of Neuroinflammation, volume 20, in 2023.


The authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.