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Neurotherapeutics. 2016 Apr;13(2):348-59. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0408-0.

The 3 Rs of Stroke Biology: Radial, Relayed, and Regenerative.

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Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Stroke not only causes initial cell death, but also a limited process of repair and recovery. As an overall biological process, stroke has been most often considered from the perspective of early phases of ischemia, how these inter-relate and lead to expansion of the infarct. However, just as the biology of later stages of stroke becomes better understood, the clinical realities of stroke indicate that it is now more a chronic disease than an acute killer. As an overall biological process, it is now more important to understand how early cell death leads to the later, limited recovery so as develop an integrative view of acute to chronic stroke. This progression from death to repair involves sequential stages of primary cell death, secondary injury events, reactive tissue progenitor responses, and formation of new neuronal circuits. This progression is radial: from the tissue that suffers the infarct secondary injury signals, including free radicals and inflammatory cytokines, radiate out from the stroke core to trigger later regenerative events. Injury and repair processes occur not just in the local stroke site, but are also triggered in the connected networks of neurons that had existed in the stroke center: damage signals are relayed throughout a brain network. From these relayed, distributed damage signals, reactive astrocytosis, inflammatory processes, and the formation of new connections occur in distant brain areas. In short, emerging data in stroke cell death studies and the development of the field of stroke neural repair now indicate a continuum in time and in space of progressive events that can be considered as the 3 Rs of stroke biology: radial, relayed, and regenerative.


Angiogenesis; Astrocyte; Axonal sprouting; Excitotoxicity; Neurogenesis; Oligodendrocyte progenitor

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