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J Neurosci Res. 2008 Aug 1;86(10):2227-34. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21661.

The spleen contributes to stroke-induced neurodegeneration.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33216, USA.


Stroke, a cerebrovascular injury, is the leading cause of disability and third leading cause of death in the world. Recent reports indicate that inhibiting the inflammatory response to stroke enhances neurosurvival and limits expansion of the infarction. The immune response that is initiated in the spleen has been linked to the systemic inflammatory response to stroke, contributing to neurodegeneration. Here we show that removal of the spleen significantly reduces neurodegeneration after ischemic insult. Rats splenectomized 2 weeks before permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion had a >80% decrease in infarction volume in the brain compared with those rats that were subjected to the stroke surgery alone. Splenectomy also resulted in decreased numbers of activated microglia, macrophages, and neutrophils present in the brain tissue. Our results demonstrate that the peripheral immune response as mediated by the spleen is a major contributor to the inflammation that enhances neurodegeneration after stroke.

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