Work towards a rat model of idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Uldall M, Bhatt DK, Kruuse C, Juhler M, Jansen-Olesen I & Jensen RH

This paper describes our work towards defining a rat model using obese Zucker rats that will enable future targeted research into idiopathic intracranial hypertension.


Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a condition of increased intracranial pressure (ICP) without identifiable cause. The majority of IIH patients are obese, which suggests a connection between ICP and obesity. The aim of the study was to compare ICP in lean and obese rats. We also aimed to clarify if any ICP difference could be attributed to changes in some well-known ICP modulators; retinol and arterial partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2). Another potential explanation could be differences in water transport across the choroid plexus (CP) epithelia, and thus we furthermore investigated expression profiles of aquaporin 1 (AQP1) and Na/K ATPase.


ICP was measured in obese and lean Zucker rats over a period of 28 days. Arterial pCO2 and serum retinol were measured in serum samples. The CPs were isolated, and target messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein were analyzed by quantitative PCR and western blot, respectively.


Obese rats had elevated ICP compared to lean controls on all recording days except day 0 (P<0.001). Serum retinol (P=0.35) and arterial pCO2 (P=0.16) did not differ between the two groups. Both AQP1 mRNA and protein levels were increased in the CP of the obese rats compared to lean rats (P=0.0422 and P=0.0281). There was no difference in Na/K ATPase mRNA or protein levels (P=0.2688 and P=0.1304).


Obese Zucker rats display intracranial hypertension and increased AQP1 expression in CP compared to lean controls. The mechanisms behind these changes are still unknown, but appear to be unrelated to altered pCO2 levels or retinol metabolism. This indicates that the increase in ICP might be related to increased AQP1 levels in CP. Although further studies are warranted, obese Zucker rats could potentially model some aspects of the IIH pathophysiology.

Read the full paper in Int J Obes (click here).