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1.  Ischemic postconditioning protects against focal cerebral ischemia by inhibiting brain inflammation while attenuating peripheral lymphopenia in mice 
Neuroscience  2013;243:149-157.
Background
Ischemic postconditioning (IPostC) has been shown to attenuate brain injury in rat stroke models, but a mouse model has not been reported. This study establishes an IPostC model in mice and investigates how IPostC affects infiltration of leukocytes in the ischemic brain and lymphopenia associated with stroke-induced immunodepression.
Material and Methods
A total of 125 mice were used. IPostC was performed by a repeated series of brief occlusions of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) after reperfusion, in a focal ischemia model in mice. Infarct sizes, neurological scores, inflammatory brain cells and immune cell populations in lymph nodes, spleen and bone marrow were analyzed with FACS.
Results
IPostC performed immediately, 2 min and 3 hr after reperfusion significantly reduced infarct sizes and attenuated neurological scores as measured up to 3 days post-stroke. In the group with strongest protection, infarct sizes were reduced from 49.6 ± 2.8% (n=16) to 27.9 ± 2.9% (n=10, P<.001). The spared infarct areas were seen in the ischemic penumbra or ischemic margins, i.e., the border zones between the cortical territories of the anterior cerebral artery (ACA) and those of the MCA, as well as in the ventromedial and dorsolateral striatum. FACS analyses showed that IPostC significantly blocked increases in the numbers of microglia (CD45intCD11b+), macrophages (CD45hiCD68+), CD4 T cells (CD45+CD4+) and CD8 T cells (CD45+CD8+) as well as B lymphocytes (CD45+CD19+) in the ischemic brain (n=5/group). Reduced-immune cell numbers in the peripheral blood and spleen were increased by IPostC while immune cell populations in the bone marrow were not altered by IPostC.
Conclusions
IPostC reduced brain infarction and mitigated neurological deficits in mice, likely by blocking infiltration of both innate and adaptive immune cells in the ischemic brain. In addition, IPostC robustly attenuated peripheral lymphopenia and thus improved systemic immunodepression.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.03.062
PMCID: PMC3735351  PMID: 23590905
cerebral ischemia; postconditioning; infarction size; mouse model
2.  Phosphorylated MAPK/ERK1/2 may not always represent its kinase activity in a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia with or without ischemic preconditioning 
Neuroscience  2012;209:155-160.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.02.005
PMCID: PMC3322316  PMID: 22366512
ischemic preconditioning; kinase activity; MAPK; ERK1/2; focal ischemia; stroke
3.  Limb remote-preconditioning protects against focal ischemia in rats and contradicts the dogma of therapeutic time windows for preconditioning 
Neuroscience  2007;151(4):1099-1103.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.11.056
PMCID: PMC2696348  PMID: 18201834
preconditioning; remote preconditioning; limb preconditioning; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia
4.  Viral caspase inhibitor p35, but not crmA, is neuroprotective in the ischemic penumbra following experimental stroke 
Neuroscience  2007;149(4):804-812.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.07.030
PMCID: PMC2144739  PMID: 17945431
cerebral ischemia; apoptosis; caspase inhibitor; crmA; p35; gene therapy; stroke

Results 1-4 (4)