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Neurotherapeutics. 2013 Oct;10(4):808-16. doi: 10.1007/s13311-013-0224-3.

The epigenetics of stroke recovery and rehabilitation: from polycomb to histone deacetylases.

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Center for Stroke Recovery, Burke-Cornell Medical Research Institute, 785 Mamaroneck Avenue White Plains, New York, 10605, NY, USA.


Classical de-afferentation studies, as well as experience-dependent visual plasticity paradigms, have confirmed that both the developing and adult nervous system are capable of unexpected levels of plasticity. This capacity is underscored by the significant spontaneous recovery that can occur in patients with mild-to-moderate impairment following stroke. An evolving model is that an interaction of biological and environmental factors during all epochs post-stroke influences the extent and quality of this plasticity. Here, we discuss data that have implicated specific epigenetic proteins as integrators of environmental influences in 3 aspects of stroke recovery: spontaneous impairment reduction in humans; peri-infarct rewiring in animals as a paradigm for developing therapeutically-driven impairment reduction beyond natural spontaneous recovery; and, finally, classical hippocampal learning and memory paradigms that are theoretically important in skill acquisition for both impairment reduction and compensatory strategies in the rehabilitation setting. Our discussion focuses primarily on B lymphoma Mo-MLV1 insertion region proteins of the polycomb repressive complex, alpha thalassemia/mental retardation syndrome X-linked chromatin remodeling factors, and the best known and most dynamic gene repressors, histone deacetylases. We will highlight exciting current data associated with these proteins and provide promising speculation about how they can be manipulated by drugs, biologics, or noninvasive stimulation for stroke recovery.

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