Investigational therapies for ischemic stroke: neuroprotection and neurorecovery.
ABSTRACT: Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Current treatment strategies for ischemic stroke primarily focus on reducing the size of ischemic damage and rescuing dying cells early after occurrence. To date, intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator is the only United States Food and Drug Administration approved therapy for acute ischemic stroke, but its use is limited by a narrow therapeutic window. The pathophysiology of stroke is complex and it involves excitotoxicity mechanisms, inflammatory pathways, oxidative damage, ionic imbalances, apoptosis, angiogenesis, neuroprotection, and neurorestoration. Regeneration of the brain after damage is still active days and even weeks after a stroke occurs, which might provide a second window for treatment. A huge number of neuroprotective agents have been designed to interrupt the ischemic cascade, but therapeutic trials of these agents have yet to show consistent benefit, despite successful preceding animal studies. Several agents of great promise are currently in the middle to late stages of the clinical trial setting and may emerge in routine practice in the near future. In this review, we highlight select pharmacologic and cell-based therapies that are currently in the clinical trial stage for stroke.
Project description:Stroke is a devastating neurological event with limited treatment opportunities. Recent advances in understanding the underlying pathogenesis of cerebral ischemia support the involvement of multiple biochemical pathways in the development of the ischemic damage. Fenamates are classical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but they are also highly subunit-selective modulators of GABA<sub>A</sub> receptors, activators of I<sub>KS</sub> potassium channels and antagonists of non-selective cation channels and the NLRP3 inflammosome. In the present study we investigated the effect of mefenamic acid (MFA) in a rodent model of ischemic stroke and then addressed the underlying pharmacological mechanisms <i>in vitro</i> for its actions <i>in vivo</i>. The efficacy of MFA in reducing ischemic damage was evaluated in adult male Wistar rats subjected to a 2-h middle cerebral artery occlusion. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) infusion of MFA (0.5 or 1 mg/kg) for 24 h, significantly reduced the infarct volume and the total ischemic brain damage. <i>In vitro</i>, the fenamates, MFA, meclofenamic acid, niflumic acid, and flufenamic acid each reduced glutamate-evoked excitotoxicity in cultured embryonic rat hippocampal neurons supporting the idea that this is a drug class action. In contrast the non-fenamate NSAIDs, ibuprofen and indomethacin did not reduce excitotoxicity <i>in vitro</i> indicating that neuroprotection by MFA was not dependent upon anti-inflammatory actions. Co-application of MFA (100 ?M) with either of the GABA<sub>A</sub> antagonists picrotoxin (100 ?M) or bicuculline (10 ?M) or the potassium channel blocker tetraethylammonium (30 mM) did not prevent neuroprotection with MFA, suggesting that the actions of MFA also do not depend on GABA<sub>A</sub> receptor modulation or potassium channel activation. These new findings indicate that fenamates may be valuable in the adjunctive treatment of ischemic stroke.
Project description:Glutamate excitotoxicity is a primary contributor of ischemic neuronal death and other cellular components of the neurovascular unit. Several strategies have been developed against glutamate excitotoxicity, however none of them have not shown positive results in the clinical practice so far. Nowadays, the concept of blood/brain glutamate grabbing or scavenging is well recognized as a novel and attractive protective strategy to reduce the excitotoxic effect of excess extracellular glutamate that accumulates in the brain following an ischemic stroke. The main advantage of this novel therapeutic strategy is that it occurs in the blood circulation and therefore does not affect the normal brain neurophysiology, as it has been described for other drug treatments used against glutamate excitotoxicity. In this work we report all experimental data from the beginning of our studies, focused on stroke pathology, and we describe new findings about the potential application of this therapy. Future clinical trials will allow to know the real efficacy of this novel therapeutic strategy in stroke patients.
Project description:Progesterone receptors (PR) are expressed throughout the brain. However, their functional significance remains understudied. Here we report a novel role of PR as crucial mediators of neuroprotection using a model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion and PR knockout mice. Six hours after ischemia, we observed a rapid increase in progesterone and 5?-dihydroprogesterone, the endogenous PR ligands, a process that may be a part of the natural neuroprotective mechanisms. PR deficiency, and even haploinsufficiency, increases the susceptibility of the brain to stroke damage. Within a time window of 24 h, PR-dependent signaling of endogenous brain progesterone limits the extent of tissue damage and the impairment of motor functions. Longer-term improvement requires additional treatment with exogenous progesterone and is also PR dependent. The potent and selective PR agonist Nestorone is also effective. In contrast to progesterone, levels of the neurosteroid allopregnanolone, which modulates ?-aminobutyric acid type A receptors, did not increase after stroke, but its administration protected both wild-type and PR-deficient mice against ischemic damage. These results show that 1) PR are linked to signaling pathways that influence susceptibility to stroke, and 2) PR are direct key targets for both endogenous neuroprotection and for therapeutic strategies after stroke, and they suggest a novel indication for synthetic progestins already validated for contraception. Although allopregnanolone may not be an endogenous neuroprotective agent, its administration protects the brain against ischemic damage by signaling mechanisms not involving PR. Collectively, our data clarify the relative roles of PR and allopregnanolone in neuroprotection after stroke.
Project description:Ischemic stroke is recognized as one of the leading causes of adult disability, morbidity, and death worldwide. Following stroke, acute neuronal excitotoxicity can lead to many deleterious consequences, one of which is the dysregulation of intracellular calcium ultimately culminating in cell death. However, to develop neuroprotective treatments that target neuronal excitotoxicity, it is essential to know the therapeutic time window for intervention following an ischemic event. To address this question, the current study aimed to characterize the magnitude and temporal progression of neuronal intracellular calcium observed following distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAO) in mice. Using the calcium fluorescence indicator, GCaMP, we tracked neuronal population response in freely moving animals immediately following dMCAO in both the core infarct and peri-infarct regions. Our results demonstrate that calcium excitotoxicity following artery occlusion can be generally characterized by two phases: a transient increase in activity that lasts tens of minutes, followed by a long, slow sustained increase in fluorescence signal. The first phase is primarily thought to represent neuronal hyperexcitability, defining our therapeutic window, while the second may represent gradual cell death. Importantly, we show that the level of intracellular calcium following artery occlusion correlated with the infarct size at 24 h demonstrating a direct connection between excitotoxicity and cell death in our stroke model. In addition, we show that administration of the NMDA antagonist MK-801 resulted in both a decrease in calcium signal and a subsequent reduction in the infarct size. Altogether, this study represents the first demonstration in freely moving animals characterizing the temporal progression of toxic calcium signaling following artery occlusion. In addition, these results define a critical time window for neuroprotective therapeutic intervention in mice.
Project description:Minocycline is neuroprotective in clinical and experimental stroke studies, due in part to its ability to inhibit poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. Previous preclinical data have shown that interference with poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase signaling leads to sex-specific neuroprotection, reducing stroke injury only in males. In this study, we show that minocycline is ineffective at reducing ischemic damage in females after middle cerebral artery occlusion, likely due to effects on poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase signaling. Clinical trials must consider possible sex differences in the response to neuroprotective agents, if we hope to translate promising therapies to stroke patients of both sexes.
Project description:Ischemic stroke is a major cause of death and long-term disability. We demonstrate that middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in mice leads to a strong decline in dendritic arborization of penumbral neurons. These defects were subsequently repaired by an ipsilateral recovery process requiring the actin nucleator Cobl. Ischemic stroke and excitotoxicity, caused by calpain-mediated proteolysis, significantly reduced Cobl levels. In an apparently unique manner among excitotoxicity-affected proteins, this Cobl decline was rapidly restored by increased mRNA expression and Cobl then played a pivotal role in poststroke dendritic arbor repair in peri-infarct areas. In Cobl knockout (KO) mice, the dendritic repair window determined to span day 2 to 4 poststroke in wild-type (WT) strikingly passed without any dendritic regrowth. Instead, Cobl KO penumbral neurons of the primary motor cortex continued to show the dendritic impairments caused by stroke. Our results thereby highlight a powerful poststroke recovery process and identified causal molecular mechanisms critical during poststroke repair.
Project description:Mitochondrial fusion and fission is a dynamic process critical for the maintenance of mitochondrial function and cell viability. During excitotoxicity neuronal mitochondria are fragmented, but the mechanism underlying this process is poorly understood. Here, we show that Mfn2 is the only member of the mitochondrial fusion/fission machinery whose expression is reduced in in vitro and in vivo models of excitotoxicity. Whereas in cortical primary cultures, Drp1 recruitment to mitochondria plays a primordial role in mitochondrial fragmentation in an early phase that can be reversed once the insult has ceased, Mfn2 downregulation intervenes in a delayed mitochondrial fragmentation phase that progresses even when the insult has ceased. Downregulation of Mfn2 causes mitochondrial dysfunction, altered calcium homeostasis, and enhanced Bax translocation to mitochondria, resulting in delayed neuronal death. We found that transcription factor MEF2 regulates basal Mfn2 expression in neurons and that excitotoxicity-dependent degradation of MEF2 causes Mfn2 downregulation. Thus, Mfn2 reduction is a late event in excitotoxicity and its targeting may help to reduce excitotoxic damage and increase the currently short therapeutic window in stroke.
Project description:Brain protection of the newborn remains a challenging priority and represents a totally unmet medical need. Pharmacological inhibition of caspases appears as a promising strategy for neuroprotection. In a translational perspective, we have developed a pentapeptide-based group II caspase inhibitor, TRP601/ORPHA133563, which reaches the brain, and inhibits caspases activation, mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, and apoptosis in vivo. Single administration of TRP601 protects newborn rodent brain against excitotoxicity, hypoxia-ischemia, and perinatal arterial stroke with a 6-h therapeutic time window, and has no adverse effects on physiological parameters. Safety pharmacology investigations, and toxicology studies in rodent and canine neonates, suggest that TRP601 is a lead compound for further drug development to treat ischemic brain damage in human newborns.
Project description:Brain injury after focal cerebral ischemia, the most common cause of stroke, develops from a series of pathological processes, including excitotoxicity, inflammation, and apoptosis. While NMDA receptors have been implicated in excitotoxicity, attempts to prevent ischemic brain damage by blocking NMDA receptors have been disappointing. Disruption of neuroprotective pathways may be another avenue responsible for ischemic damage, and thus preservation of neuronal survival may be important for prevention of ischemic brain injury. Here, we report that suppression of proteolytic degradation of transient receptor potential canonical 6 (TRPC6) prevented ischemic neuronal cell death in a rat model of stroke. The TRPC6 protein level in neurons was greatly reduced in ischemia via NMDA receptor-dependent calpain proteolysis of the N-terminal domain of TRPC6 at Lys¹?. This downregulation was specific for TRPC6 and preceded neuronal death. In a rat model of ischemia, activating TRPC6 prevented neuronal death, while blocking TRPC6 increased sensitivity to ischemia. A fusion peptide derived from the calpain cleavage site in TRPC6 inhibited degradation of TRPC6, reduced infarct size, and improved behavioral performance measures via the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) signaling pathway. Thus, TRPC6 proteolysis contributed to ischemic neuronal cell death, and suppression of its degradation preserved neuronal survival and prevented ischemic brain damage.
Project description:Stroke is the leading cause of disability and thesecond leading cause of death worldwide. With the global population aged 65 and over growing faster than all other age groups, the incidence of stroke is also increasing. In addition, there is a shift in the overall stroke burden towards younger age groups, particularly in low and middle-income countries. Stroke in most cases is caused due to an abrupt blockage of an artery (ischemic stroke), but in some instances stroke may be caused due to bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). Although treatment options for stroke are still limited, with the advancement in recanalization therapy using both pharmacological and mechanical thrombolysis some progress has been made in helping patients recover from ischemic stroke. However, there is still a substantial need for the development of therapeutic agents for neuroprotection in acute ischemic stroke to protect the brain from damage prior to and during recanalization, extend the therapeutic time window for intervention and further improve functional outcome. The current review has assessed the past challenges in developing neuroprotective strategies, evaluated the recent advances in clinical trials, discussed the recent initiative by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in USA for the search of novel neuroprotectants (Stroke Preclinical Assessment Network, SPAN) and identified emerging neuroprotectants being currently evaluated in preclinical studies. The underlying molecular mechanism of each of the neuroprotective strategies have also been summarized, which could assist in the development of future strategies for combinational therapy in stroke treatment.