CD137 ligand-CD137 interaction is required for inflammasome-associated brain injury following ischemic stroke Academic Article uri icon


  • The CD137L-CD137 axis is a potent co-stimulatory immune checkpoint regulator that forms a bidirectional signaling pathway between the CD137 ligand (CD137L) and CD137 receptor to regulate immunological activities. This study investigated the potential involvement of the CD137L-CD137 axis on inflammasome-associated brain injury and neurological deficits in a mouse model of focal ischemic stroke. Cerebral ischemia was induced in male C57BL/6J wild-type (WT), CD137L-deficient (CD137L KO) and CD137-deficient (CD137 KO) mice by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO; 60 min), followed by reperfusion (6 h and 24 h). Brain infarct volume and neurological deficit scores were significantly lower in both CD137L KO and CD137 KO mice compared to WT controls. Moreover, CD137L-deficient brains had significantly lower levels of the pyroptotic protein, NT-Gasdermin D, while CD137-deficient brains had significantly lower levels of the pro-apoptotic proteins, cleaved caspase-3, pyroptotic protein, NT-Gasdermin D, and of the secondary pyroptotic protein NT-Gasdermin E, following ischemic stroke. This protection by CD137L and CD137 deletion was associated with a significant decrease in inflammasome signaling. In conclusion, our data provide evidence for the first time that the CD137L-CD137 axis contributes to brain injury and neurological deficits by activating the inflammasome signaling pathway following ischemic stroke.


  • Fann, David Y
  • Nickles, Emily Pauline
  • Poh, Luting
  • Rajeev, Vismitha
  • Selvaraji, Sharmelee
  • Schwarz, Herbert
  • Arumugam, Thiruma

publication date

  • 2020