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Stroke. 2012 May;43(5):1376-82. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.635516. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Alternatively-spliced extra domain A of fibronectin promotes acute inflammation and brain injury after cerebral ischemia in mice.

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University of Iowa, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.



The fibronectin isoform containing the alternatively spliced extra domain A (EDA(+)-FN) is normally absent from the circulation, but plasma levels of EDA(+)-FN can become markedly elevated in several human pathological conditions associated with inflammation including ischemic stroke. It remains unknown whether EDA(+)-FN contributes to stroke pathogenesis or is simply an associative marker. Several in vitro studies suggest that EDA(+)-FN can activate Toll-like receptor 4, an innate immune receptor that triggers proinflammatory responses. We undertook a genetic approach in mice to investigate the ability of EDA(+)-FN to mediate inflammatory brain damage in a focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury model.


We used genetically modified EDA(+/+) mice, which constitutively express EDA(+)-FN. Extent of injury, neurological outcome, and inflammatory mechanisms were assessed after 1-hour cerebral ischemia/23-hour reperfusion injury and compared with wild-type mice.


We found that EDA(+/+) mice developed significantly larger infarcts and severe neurological deficits that were associated with significant increased neutrophil and macrophage infiltration as quantitated by immunohistochemistry. Additionally, we found upregulation of nuclear factor-κB, cyclo-oxygenase-2, and inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6 in the EDA(+/+) mice compared with wild-type mice. Interestingly, increased brain injury and neurological deficits were largely abrogated in EDA(+/+) mice by treatment with a specific Toll-like receptor 4 inhibitor.


These findings provide the first evidence that EDA(+)-FN promotes inflammatory brain injury after ischemic stroke and suggest that the elevated levels of plasma EDA(+)-FN observed in chronic inflammatory conditions could worsen injury and outcome in patients after acute stroke.

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