MAR 18, 2015 12:56 PM PDT

Scientists Make Surprise Finding in Stroke Research

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
SEP 12, 2018
Neuroscience
SEP 12, 2018
Think Young to Stay Young: Aging and Attitude
You're as young as you feel is a wise old saying, but what if it's true? Chronological age is easy to measure. Count up how many years, months or d...
SEP 24, 2018
Videos
SEP 24, 2018
Restaurants use psychology to make you spend more money
Have you ever gone out to a restaurant and ended up ordering way more than you expected to, only to get the bill at the end of dinner and be totally blinds...
SEP 25, 2018
Neuroscience
SEP 25, 2018
A Brain-Body Imaging System for Neurological Diagnostics
When neuroscientists and doctors have to diagnose complex brain illnesses or injuries, they must collect a great deal of information. From MRI scans to phy...
SEP 26, 2018
Neuroscience
SEP 26, 2018
Therapeutic antibodies for Alzheimer's disease: challenges and hopes
Solanezumab: this simple name evokes at the same time one of the greatest hopes and the worst disillusions for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients. Two...
OCT 18, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
OCT 18, 2018
This is Your Brain on Weed
Here is a first: a marijuana          https://youtu.be/_DlFcMWdsxw...
NOV 01, 2018
Neuroscience
NOV 01, 2018
How baroreceptors do blood pressure sensing
mechanical changes in the blood vessels is communicated to brain via mechanosensitive Piezo ion channels...
Loading Comments...