MAR 18, 2015 12:56 PM PDT

Scientists Make Surprise Finding in Stroke Research

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Scientists at The University of Manchester have made an important new discovery about the brain's immune system that could lead to potential new treatments for stroke and other related conditions.

Inflammation is activated in the brain after a stroke, but rather than aiding recovery it actually causes and worsens damage. That damage can be devastating. In fact, stroke is responsible for 10percent of deaths worldwide and is the leading cause of disability.

Therefore, understanding how inflammation is regulated in the brain is vital for the development of drugs to limit the damage triggered by a stroke.

Dr David Brough from the Faculty of Life Sciences, working alongside colleagues including Professors Dame Nancy Rothwell and Stuart Allan, has studied the role of inflammasomes in stroke. These inflammasomes are large protein complexes essential for the production of the inflammatory protein interleukin-1. Interleukin-1 has many roles in the body, and contributes to cell death in the brain following a stroke.

Dr Brough explains: "Very little is known about how inflammasomes might be involved in brain injury. Therefore we began by studying the most well researched inflammasome NLRP3, which is known to be activated when the body is injured. Surprisingly we found that this was not involved in inflammation and damage in the brain caused by stroke, even though drugs are being developed to block this to treat Alzheimer's disease."

Further studies using experimental models of stroke demonstrated that it was actually the NLRC4 and AIM2 inflammasomes that contribute to brain injury, rather than NLRP3.

This discovery was unexpected, since NLRC4, was only known to fight infections and yet Dr Brough and colleagues found that it caused injury in the brain. This new discovery will help the Manchester researchers discover more about how inflammation is involved in brain injury and develop new drugs for the treatment of stroke.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council and has been published in PNAS.

As well as identifying new targets for potential drug treatments for stroke Dr Brough points out how little we currently know about how the immune system works in the brain.

He said: "We know very little about how the immune system is regulated in the brain. However, its important we understand this since it contributes to disease and injury. For example, in addition to stroke, Alzheimer's disease has an inflammatory aspect and even depression may be driven by inflammation."

Source: University of Manchester
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
APR 15, 2021
Neuroscience
Alcohol Metabolism in the Brain Causes Intoxicated Behavior
APR 15, 2021
Alcohol Metabolism in the Brain Causes Intoxicated Behavior
Researchers from the University of Maryland have found that the effects of alcohol intoxication, like slurred speech and ...
MAY 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sharks Can Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate
MAY 10, 2021
Sharks Can Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate
How do sharks make transatlantic journeys without losing their way? New research published this week in Current Biology ...
MAY 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Getting RNA-Based Medicine Past the Blood-Brain Barrier
MAY 10, 2021
Getting RNA-Based Medicine Past the Blood-Brain Barrier
RNA molecules serve several functions, one of which is to help the cell generate proteins from active genes. It also may ...
JUN 02, 2021
Technology
New Technology May Help Patients Better Monitor Changes in Their Mental Health
JUN 02, 2021
New Technology May Help Patients Better Monitor Changes in Their Mental Health
Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a new electronic platform that, when integrated with the capabili ...
JUN 05, 2021
Neuroscience
Bilingualism Reduces Symptoms of Autism in Children
JUN 05, 2021
Bilingualism Reduces Symptoms of Autism in Children
Researchers have shown that bilingualism can reduce symptoms of autism in children by compensating for deficits in theor ...
JUN 05, 2021
Technology
Robotic Exoskeleton May Improve Response to Exercise-based Rehabilitation in People With Severe MS
JUN 05, 2021
Robotic Exoskeleton May Improve Response to Exercise-based Rehabilitation in People With Severe MS
Robots are most often found in science fiction. Recently, however, researchers are using robot-like technology to help p ...
Loading Comments...