Chemokine CXC ligand 12 (CXCL12), originally named stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1), is a member of the CXC chemokine subfamily. CXCL12 is found to be expressed by all cell types that are presented in the central nervous system (CNS). It works in conjunction with the G-protein coupled receptor CXCR4, which is found at the surface of a variety of cells including neurons, astrocytes, microglia, bone marrow-derived cells, as well as other progenitor cells. Recent studies revealed that CXCL12 could also bind and signal through receptor CXCR7. CXCL12 and CXCR4 are constitutively expressed in the brain but are up-regulated in the ischemic penumbra regions following ischemic stroke. CXCL12/CXCR4 play important roles in multiple processes after ischemic stroke, which include inflammatory response, focal angiogenesis, and the recruitment of bone marrow-derived cells (BMCs) and neural progenitor cell (NPC) to injury. In addition to its roles in stroke pathology, CXCL12 is also thought to be a key regulator in stroke repairing. This review will focus on the function of CXCL12/CXCR4 in post-stroke inflammation and neurovascular repairing. The potential application of CXCL12 modulation in clinical stroke treatment is also discussed.
Keywords: Angiogenesis, CXCL12, CXCR4, CXCR7, inflammation, stroke, chemokine, ischemia, receptor, signaling pathways
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