Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is commonly used to treat acute ischemic stroke within an appropriate therapeutic window. Its inhibitor, neuroserpin (NSP), is reported to exhibit neuroprotective effects on stroke. This review aims to summarize, from literature, the available evidence, potential mechanisms, and knowledge limitations regarding the neuroprotective role of NSP in stroke. All the available evidence indicates that the regulation of the inflammatory response may play a key role in the mechanisms of NSP, which involve all the constituents of the neuroimmune axis. The neuroinflammatory response triggered by stroke can be reversed by NSP, with complicated mechanisms such as maintenance and reconstruction of the structure and function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), protection of the cells in the central nervous system, and suppression of cell death in both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Moreover, available evidence strongly suggests a tPA-independent mechanism is involved in NSP. However, there are many important issues that are still unclear and need further investigation, such as the effects of NSP on hemorrhagic stroke, the role of the tPA-independent neuroprotective mechanisms, and the clinical application prospects of NSP. We believe our work will be helpful to further understand the neuroprotective role of NSP.
Keywords: Stroke, tPA, neuroserpin, neuroprotective effects, neuroinflammation, blood-brain barrier.