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J Neurosci. 2012 May 30;32(22):7622-31. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0369-12.2012.

Thrombin activity associated with neuronal damage during acute focal ischemia.

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Department of Neurology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.


Mechanisms of ischemic neuronal and vascular injury remain obscure. Here we test the hypothesis that thrombin, a blood-borne coagulation factor, contributes to neurovascular injury during acute focal ischemia. Stroke was induced in adult Sprague Dawley rats by occluding the middle cerebral artery. Intra-arterial thrombin infusion during ischemia significantly increased vascular disruption and cellular injury. Intravenous infusion of argatroban, a direct thrombin inhibitor, alleviated neurovascular injury. Immunostaining showed thrombin on neurons in the ischemic core. Using an activatable cell-penetrating peptide engineered to detect thrombin activity, we discovered that thrombin proteolytic activity was specifically associated with neuronal damage during ischemia. Protease activated receptor-1, the presumptive thrombin receptor, appeared to mediate ischemic neurovascular injury. Furthermore, rats receiving thrombin during ischemia showed cognitive deficit, whereas rats receiving argatroban retained intact learning and memory. These results suggest a potential role for thrombin contributing to neurovascular injury and several potential avenues for neuroprotection.

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