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J Neuroimmunol. 2009 Jan 3;206(1-2):112-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Dec 5.

Immune activation in the peripheral blood of patients with acute ischemic stroke.

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  • 1The University of Queensland, Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, Australia.


Lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages are found in the brain in areas of acute ischaemic stroke. There is also evidence of modulation of systemic immune function after stroke, with post-stroke immunosuppression being observed. Because lymphocytes are activated in the peripheral immune compartment, before entry to the target organ, we reasoned that activated lymphocytes would be present in the circulation, prior to entering the brain, in patients after stroke. Because immune responses are controlled by regulatory mechanisms, we also reasoned that the post-stroke immunosuppression would involve T regulatory cells. The aim of the study was to look for evidence of immune activation and alterations in regulatory T cells in the peripheral blood of patients after acute ischaemic stroke, in comparison to age-matched healthy controls and patients with other neurological diseases (OND), and to determine the phenotype of the activated cells. The percentages of total and activated T cells, B cells, monocyte/ macrophages, and NK/NK-T cells were determined by labelling peripheral blood leukocytes with specific cell surface markers and analysis with 4-colour flow cytometry. The percentages of activated T cells and regulatory T cells were significantly increased in patients with ischemic stroke compared to healthy subjects and patients with OND. There was also an increase in the percentage of CCR7+ T cells. There were no significant differences in the activation of other cell types. In conclusion, there is evidence of immune activation and Treg cells in acute ischaemic stroke.

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