Background and purpose
T cells and their subsets modulate ischemic brain injury. We studied the effects of the absence of T cell subsets on brain infarction after in vivo stroke and then used an in vitro co-culture system of splenocytes and neurons to further identify the roles of T cell subsets in neuronal death.
Stroke was induced by MCA suture occlusion in mice and infarct sizes were measured 2 days post-stroke.
Splenocytes were co-cultured with neurons, and neuronal survival was measured 3 days later.
A deficiency of both T and B cells (SCID) and the paucity of CD4 or CD8 T cells equally resulted in smaller infarct sizes as measured 2 days post-stroke. Although a functional deficiency of regulatory T cells had no effect, impaired Th1 immunity reduced infarction and impaired Th2 immunity aggravated brain injury, which may be due to an inhibited and enhanced inflammatory response in mice deficient in Th1 and Th2 immunity, respectively. In the in vitro co-culture system, WT splenocytes resulted in dose-dependent neuronal death. The neurotoxicity of splenocytes from the above immunodeficient mice was consistent with their effects on stroke in vivo , except for the mice with the paucity of CD4 or CD8 T cells, which did not alter the ratio of neuronal death.
T cell subsets play critical roles in brain injury induced by stroke. The detrimental versus beneficial effects of Th1 cells and Th2 cells both in vivo and in vitro reveal differential therapeutic target strategies for stroke treatment.
cerebral ischemia; stroke; T cells; Th1; Th2
The ERK 1/2 protein require a dual phosphorylation at conserved threonine and tyrosine residues to be fully activated under normal physiological conditions. Thus, ERK1/2 kinase activity is often defined by the quantity of phosphorylated kinase. However, this may not accurately represent its true activity under certain pathological conditions. We investigated whether ERK1/2 kinase activity is proportional to its phosphorylation state in a rat focal ischemia model with and without rapid ischemic preconditioning. We showed that phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels were increased 2.6±0.07 fold, and ERK1/2 kinase activity was increased 10.6±1.9 fold in animals receiving ischemic preconditioning alone without test ischemia compared with sham group (P<0.05, n=6/group), suggesting that phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels represent its kinase activity under these conditions. However, preconditioning plus test ischemia robustly blocked ERK1/2 kinase activity, while it increased phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels beyond those receiving test ischemia alone, suggesting that phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels were not representative of actual kinase activity in this pathological condition. In conclusion, protein phosphorylation levels of ERK1/2 do not always correspond to kinase activity, thus, measuring the true kinase activity is essential.
ischemic preconditioning; kinase activity; MAPK; ERK1/2; focal ischemia; stroke
Lithium is a mood stabilizer shown to have neuroprotective effects against several chronic and acute neuronal injuries, including stroke. However, it is unknown whether lithium treatment protects against brain injury post-stroke in a rat model of permanent distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) combined with transient bilateral common carotid artery occlusion (CCAo), a model that mimics human stroke with partial reperfusion. In addition, whether lithium treatment alters Akt activity as measured by the kinase activity assay has not been reported, although it is known to inhibit GSK3β activity. After stroke, Akt activity contributes to neuronal survival while GSK3β activity causes neuronal death. We report that a bolus of lithium injection at stroke onset robustly reduced infarct size measured by 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining at 48 h post-stroke and inhibited cell death in the ischemic penumbra, but not in the ischemic core, as shown by TUNEL staining performed 24 h post-stroke. However, lithium treatment did not alter the reduction in Akt activity as measured by Akt kinase assay. We further showed that lithium did not alter phosphorylated GSK3β protein levels, or the degradation of β-catenin, a substrate of GSK3β, which is consistent with previous findings that long-term treatment is required for lithium to alter GSK3β phosphorylation. In summary, we show innovative data that lithium protects against stroke in a focal ischemia model with partial reperfusion, however, our results dispute the importance of Akt activity in the protective effects of lithium.
Lithium; Akt; Cerebral focal ischemia; GSK3β; β-catenin
Gene therapy has demonstrated the protective potential of a variety of genes against stroke. However, conventional gene therapy vectors are limited due to the inability to temporally control their expression, which can sometimes lead to deleterious side effects. Thus, an inducible vector that can be temporally controlled and activated by the insult itself would be advantageous. Using hypoxia responsive elements (HRE) and antioxidant responsive elements (ARE), we have constructed an insult-inducible vector activated by hypoxia and reactive oxygen species (ROS). In COS7 cells, the inducible ARE−HRE-luciferase vectors are highly activated by oxygen deprivation, hydrogen peroxide treatment, and the ROS-induced transcription factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Using a defective herpes virus, the neuroprotective potential of this inducible vector was tested by over-expressing the transcription factor Nrf2. In primary cortical cultures, expression of the inducible ARE−HRE–Nrf2 protects against oxygen glucose deprivation, similar to that afforded by the constitutively expressed Nrf2. This ARE+HRE vector system is advantageous in that it allows the expression of a transgene to be activated not only during hypoxia but also maintained after reperfusion, thus prolonging the transgene expression during an ischemic insult. This insult-inducible vector system will be a valuable gene therapy tool for activating therapeutic/protective genes in cerebrovascular diseases.
Insult-inducible; Gene therapy; Hypoxia; HIF1; Nrf2; Reactive oxygen species
Two pathways that have been shown to mediate cerebral ischemic damage are the MEK/ERK cascade and the pro-apoptotic δPKC pathway. We investigated the relationship between these pathways in a rat model of focal ischemia by observing and modifying the activation state of each pathway. The ERK1/2 inhibitor, U0126, injected at ischemia onset, attenuated the increase in phosphorylated ERK1/2 (P-ERK1/2) after reperfusion. The δPKC inhibitor, δV1-1, delivered at reperfusion, did not significantly change P-ERK1/2 levels. In contrast, the δPKC activator, ψδRACK, injected at reperfusion, reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation measured 4 h after reperfusion. Additionally, U0126 pretreatment at ischemia onset reduced infarct size compared with vehicle, but U0126 injected at the onset of reperfusion had no protection. Finally, combination of U0126 injection at ischemia onset plus δV1-1 injection at reperfusion further reduced infarct size, while combination of U0126 delivered at ischemia onset with ψδRACK injected at reperfusion increased infarct size compared with U0126 alone. In conclusion, we find that inhibiting both the MEK/ERK and the δPKC pathways offers greater protection than either alone, indicating they likely act independently.
Cerebral ischemia; MEK/ERK cascade; δPKC; ERK1/2
We previously reported that ischemic postconditioning with a series of mechanical interruptions of reperfusion reduced infarct volume 2 days after focal ischemia in rats. Here, we extend this data by examining long-term protection and exploring underlying mechanisms involving the Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways. Post-conditioning reduced infarct and improved behavioral function assessed 30 days after stroke. Additionally, postconditioning increased levels of phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) as measured by western blot and Akt activity as measured by an in vitro kinase assay. Inhibiting Akt activity by a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, enlarged infarct in postconditioned rats. Postconditioning did not affect protein levels of phosphorylated-phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 or -phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (molecules upstream of Akt) but did inhibit an increase in phosphorylated-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt effector. In addition, postconditioning blocked β-catenin phosphorylation subsequent to glycogen synthase kinase, but had no effect on total or non-phosphorylated active β-catenin protein levels. Furthermore, postconditioning inhibited increases in the amount of phosphorylated-c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 in the MAPK pathway. Finally, postconditioning blocked death-promoting δPKC cleavage and attenuated reduction in phosphorylation of survival-promoting εPKC. In conclusion, our data suggest that postconditioning provides long-term protection against stroke in rats. Additionally, we found that Akt activity contributes to postconditioning’s protection; furthermore, increases in εPKC activity, a survival-promoting pathway, and reductions in MAPK and δPKC activity; two putative death-promoting pathways correlate with postconditioning’s protection.
Akt; cerebral ischemia; mitogen-activated protein kinase; postconditioning; protein kinase C; β-catenin
Beta-catenin can be cleaved by caspase-3 or degraded by activated glycogen synthase kinase-3β via phosphorylating β-catenin. We tested the hypothesis that β-catenin undergoes degradation after stroke, and its degradation is dependent on caspase activity. Stroke was generated by permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion and 1h of transient bilateral common carotid artery occlusion in rats. Active caspase-3 was expressed in the ischemic cortex from 5 to 48 h after stroke, whereas β-catenin markedly degraded at 24 and 48 h after stroke. The caspase 3-specific inhibitor, Z-DQMD-FMK, attenuated β-catenin degradation, but it did not affect phosphorylation of both β-catenin and glycogen synthase kinase-3β. In conclusion, β-catenin degraded after stroke, and its degradation was caspase-3 dependent.
β-catenin; caspase-3; focal ischemia; glycogen synthase kinase-3β; stroke
Remote ischemic preconditioning is an emerging concept for stroke treatment, but its protection against focal stroke has not been established. We tested whether remote preconditioning, performed in the ipsilateral hind limb, protects against focal stroke and explored its protective parameters. Stroke was generated by a permanent occlusion of the left distal middle cerebral artery (MCA) combined with a 30 minute occlusion of the bilateral common carotid arteries (CCA) in male rats. Limb preconditioning was generated by 5 or 15 minute occlusion followed with the same period of reperfusion of the left hind femoral artery, and repeated for 2 or 3 cycles. Infarct was measured 2 days later. The results showed that rapid preconditioning with 3 cycles of 15 minutes performed immediately before stroke reduced infarct size from 47.7±7.6% of control ischemia to 9.8±8.6%; at 2 cycles of 15 minutes, infarct was reduced to 24.7±7.3%; at 2 cycles of 5 minutes, infarct was not reduced. Delayed preconditioning with 3 cycles of 15 minutes conducted 2 days before stroke also reduced infarct to 23.0 ±10.9%, but with 2 cycles of 15 minutes it offered no protection. The protective effects at these two therapeutic time windows of remote preconditioning are consistent with those of conventional preconditioning, in which the preconditioning ischemia is induced in the brain itself. Unexpectedly, intermediate preconditioning with 3 cycles of 15 minutes performed 12 hours before stroke also reduced infarct to 24.7±4.7%, which contradicts the current dogma for therapeutic time windows for the conventional preconditioning that has no protection at this time point. In conclusion, remote preconditioning performed in one limb protected against ischemic damage after focal cerebral ischemia.
preconditioning; remote preconditioning; limb preconditioning; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia
Dephosphorylated and activated glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) 3β hyperphophorylates β-catenin, leading to its ubiquitin-proteosome-mediated degradation. β-catenin-knockdown increases while β-catenin overexpression prevents neuronal death in vitro; in addition, protein levels of β-catenin are reduced in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. However, whether β-catenin degradation is involved in stroke-induced brain injury is unknown. Here we studied activities of GSK3 β and β-catenin, and the protective effect of moderate hypothermia (30 °C) on these activities after focal ischemia in rats. The results of Western blot showed that GSK3 β was dephosphorylated at 5 and 24 hours after stroke in the normothermic (37 °C) brain; hypothermia augmented GSK3β dephosphorylation. Because hypothermia reduces infarction, these results contradict with previous studies showing that GSK3β dephosphorylation worsens neuronal death. Nevertheless, hypothermia blocked degradation of total GSK3β protein. Corresponding to GSK3β activity in normothermic rats, β-catenin phosphorylation transiently increased at 5 hours in both the ischemic penumbra and core, and the total protein level of β-catenin degraded after normothermic stroke. Hypothermia did not inhibit β-catenin phosphorylation, but it blocked β-catenin degradation in the ischemic penumbra. In conclusion, moderate hypothermia can stabilize β-catenin, which may contribute to the protective effect of moderate hypothermia.
Focal ischemia; hypothermia; GSK-3β; β-catenin
Apoptosis, a predominant cause of neuronal death after stroke, can be executed in a caspase-dependent or apoptosis inducing factor (AIF)-dependent manner. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) vectors expressing caspase inhibitors p35 and crmA have been shown to be neuroprotective against various excitotoxic insults. Here we further evaluated the possible neuroprotective role of p35 and crmA in a rat stroke model. Overexpression of p35, but not crmA, significantly increased neuronal survival. Results of double immunofluorescence staining indicate that compared with neurons infected with crmA or control vectors, p35-infected neurons had less active caspase-3 expression, cytosolic cytochrome c and nuclear AIF translocation.
cerebral ischemia; apoptosis; caspase inhibitor; crmA; p35; gene therapy; stroke
Reactive oxygen species contribute to neuronal death following cerebral ischemia. Prior studies using transgenic animals have demonstrated the neuroprotective effect of the antioxidant, copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). In this study we investigated whether SOD1 overexpression using gene therapy techniques in non-transgenic animals would increase neuronal survival. A neurotropic, herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) vector containing the SOD1 gene was injected into the striatum either before or after transient focal cerebral ischemia. Striatal neuron survival at two days was improved by 52% when vector was delivered 12–15 hours prior to ischemia and by 53% when vector delivery was delayed 2 hours following ischemia. These data add to the growing literature which suggests that an antioxidant approach, perhaps by employing gene therapy techniques, may be beneficial in the treatment of stroke. (According to the guidline, it is mandatory to include classification terms here. But I did not find them –HZ)
copper; zinc superoxide dismutase; gene therapy; stroke, focal ischemia, cerebral ischemia