Faculty scientists have made an important discovery that could lead to new treatments for stroke and other related conditions.
Inflammation is activated in the brain after stroke, causing potentially devastating damage. Stroke is actually responsible for approximately 10% of deaths worldwide and is the leading cause of disability. Understanding how inflammation is regulated in the brain is vital for the development of drugs which can limit the damage caused by stroke.
Working alongside Professors Dame Nancy Rothwell and Stuart Allan, Dr David Brough has been studying the role of inflammasomes in stroke. Inflammasomes are large protein complexes essential for the production of the inflammatory protein interleukin-1, which contributes to cell death in the brain after a stroke. Dr Brough says:
“Very little is known about how inflammasomes might be involved in brain injury. Therefore, we began by studying the most well characterised inflammasome, called NLRP3, known to be activated when the body is injured. Surprisingly, we found that this was not involved in inflammation and damage in the brain caused by stroke, even though drugs are being developed to block this to treat Alzheimer’s disease.”
Further studies demonstrated that it was actually the NLRC4 and AIM2 inflammasomes that contribute to brain injury. This was unexpected because NLRC4 was previously known as a fighter of infections. This will help the team to understand more about inflammation’s involvement in brain injury and aid the development of new drugs to treat stroke.