Interferon-beta blocks infiltration of inflammatory cells and reduces infarct volume after ischemic stroke in the rat

Wouter B Veldhuis, Joris W Derksen, Sarah Floris, Peter H Van Der Meide, Helga E De Vries, Janneke Schepers, Ine M P Vos, Christien D Dijkstra, L Jaap Kappelle, Klaas Nicolay, Peter R Bär

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The inflammatory response that exacerbates cerebral injury after ischemia is an attractive therapeutic target: it progresses over days and strongly contributes to worsening of the neurologic outcome. The authors show that, after transient ischemic injury to the rat brain, systemic application of interferon-beta (IFN-beta), a cytokine with antiinflammatory properties, attenuated the development of brain infarction. Serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that IFN-beta treatment reduced lesion volume on diffusion-weighted MRI by 70% (P < 0.01) at 1 day after stroke. IFN-beta attenuated the leakage of contrast agent through the blood-brain barrier (P < 0.005), indicating a better-preserved blood-brain barrier integrity. Both control and IFN-beta-treated animals showed a similar degree of relative hyperperfusion of the lesioned hemisphere, indicating that neuroprotection by IFN-beta was not mediated by improved cerebral perfusion as assessed 24 hours after stroke onset. IFN-beta treatment resulted in an 85% reduction (P < 0.0001) in infarct volume 3 weeks later, as determined from T2-weighted MRI and confirmed by histology. This effect was achieved even when treatment was started 6 hours after stroke onset. Quantitative immunohistochemistry at 24 hours after stroke onset showed that IFN-beta almost completely prevented the infiltration of neutrophils and monocytes into the brain. Gelatinase zymography showed that this effect was associated with a decrease in matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression. In conclusion, treatment with the antiinflammatory cytokine IFN-beta affords significant neuroprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury, and within a relatively long treatment window. Because IFN-beta has been approved for clinical use, it may be rapidly tested in a clinical trial for its efficacy against human stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-39
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003

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