Mechanisms Contributing to Cerebral Infarct Size after Stroke: Gender, Reperfusion, T Lymphocytes, and Nox2-Derived Superoxide Academic Article uri icon


  • Cerebral infarct volume is typically smaller in premenopausal females than in age-matched males after ischemic stroke, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In this study we provide evidence in mice that this gender difference only occurs when the ischemic brain is reperfused. The limited tissue salvage achieved by reperfusion in male mice is associated with increased expression of proinflammatory proteins, including cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2), Nox2, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and infiltration of Nox2-containing T lymphocytes into the infarcted brain, whereas such changes are minimal in female mice after ischemia-reperfusion (I-R). Infarct volume after I-R was no greater at 72 h than at 24 h in either gender. Infarct development was Nox2 dependent in male but not in female mice, and Nox2 within the infarct was predominantly localized in T lymphocytes. Stroke resulted in an approximately 15-fold increase in Nox2-dependent superoxide production by circulating, but not spleen-derived, T lymphocytes in male mice, and this was approximately sevenfold greater than in female mice. These circulating immune cells may thus represent a major and previously unrecognized source of superoxide in the acutely ischemic and reperfused brain of males (and potentially in postmenopausal females). Our findings provide novel insights into mechanisms that could be therapeutically targeted in acute ischemic stroke patients who receive thrombolysis therapy to induce cerebral reperfusion.

publication date

  • July 2010

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