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Possible new treatment for neuroinflammation in stroke

The pharmacological blockade of a protein called TSPO has been found to reduce inflammation and brain edema in animal models of intracerebral hemorrhage.

By Amy Wallace
Possible new treatment for neuroinflammation in stroke
Researchers have discovered a potential new treatment target for neuroinflammation associated with a severe type of stroke known as intracerebral hemorrhage. Photo by sfam_photo/Shutterstock

April 17 (UPI) -- Researchers have identified a potential new treatment to reduce the effects of intracerebral hemorrhage, or ICH, a severe form of stroke causing blood vessels to burst and bleed into the brain, which can lead to life-threatening edema and neuroinflammation.

Researchers at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., found that a ligand, a molecule that binds another molecule, of the TPSO protein called etifoxine reduces the inflammation and brain edema in mice induced with ICH.

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The study was published in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, or FASEB, Journal.

"Targeting TSPO can restrict neuroinflammation and brain edema after ICH," Qiang Liu, a researcher in the Department of Neurology at Barrow, said in a press release. "TSPO ligands have the potential to serve as a new remedy for ICH."

The team of researchers found that inducing ICH in mice with etifoxine reduced leukocyte infiltration into the brain and microglial production of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, which are both known hallmarks of ICH. They also found that the ligand improved the integrity of the blood-brain barrier and diminished cell death.

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"This is a very provacative new lead on ICH," Thoru Pederson, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, said. "A cytokine axis in ICH is not new, but the notion that this TSPO ligand can do what it does is new, and very promising."

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