Experimentally and clinically, stroke is followed by both acute and prolonged inflammatory responses characterized by the production of inflammatory cytokines and leukocyte infiltration into the brain. A debate on whether inflammation after stroke is neurotoxic or participates in brain repair remains unresolved. However, the need to pharmacologically control inflammatory amplification has been commonly acknowledged. The principal challenge of devising successful anti-inflammatory strategies for stroke is to understand molecular and temporal interplay of inflammatory and cell-death-inducing processes triggered by cerebral ischemia in both parenchymal and vascular brain cells. This article will review a number of experimental and clinically tested approaches to reduce brain inflammation and damage after stroke (e.g., anti-neutrophil, anti-ICAM-1, anti-cytokine strategies) and will suggest potential pathways where novel therapeutic targets may emerge, including transcriptional regulators of inflammatory gene expression (e.g., NF-κB, proteasome) and signaling pathways (e.g., ICE-cascade, MAPK/MKK/ERK cascade) linked to both inflammation and neuronal cell death. Finally, we will discuss applications of functional genomics technologies in the discovery of stroke diagnostics and therapies.
Keywords: ischemic stroke, neuroinflammation, cytokines, chemokines, anti-inflammatory cytokines, adhesion molecules, functional genomics
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