Markers of Outcome in Stroke

Stroke is a leading cause of disability, but little progress has been made in stroke treatment since the discovery of “clot-busting” drugs in the 1990s. These drugs can be very beneficial but they also can harm some patients. There is an ongoing quest to understand who will benefit and who should not be given these powerful drugs. Ischemic stroke is caused by an interruption of cerebral blood flow within the brain by a clot lodged in a blood vessel. The Brain Physiology Laboratory is engaged in a study where, for the first time, blood samples taken from the clot region in stroke patients are used to understand why strokes occur in the first place, who may benefit from clot-dissolving therapy, and whether inflammation of the brain is a culprit for delayed recovery following a stroke. In this project, the team is studying patients who undergo a procedure to remove or dissolve their clot by a catheter inserted into their brain vessels. While the doctor performs that procedure, blood is also sampled from different regions of the brain, the aorta (our largest artery), and a vein. The results will be compared to outcomes after the procedure, to known causes of stroke, and to other information collected in this study. These include detailed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at two different time points as well as analysis of cellular and molecular markers of inflammation and brain damage.

Summary: Clot-dissolving drugs are the main weapon against stroke, yet their use is limited by often severe if not fatal side effects. The Brain Physiology Laboratory is the first to use markers of stroke taken from the clot region in the brain to understand molecular and cellular events leading to stroke and responsible for poor outcomes after use of clot-dissolving drugs.

See also: Brain Physiology Laboratory