Peripheral immune cells infiltrate into sites of secondary neurodegeneration after ischemic stroke Academic Article uri icon


  • Experimental stroke leads to microglia activation and progressive neuronal loss at sites of secondary neurodegeneration (SND). These lesions are remote from, but synaptically connected to, primary infarction sites. Previous studies have demonstrated that immune cells are present in sites of infarction in the first hours and days after stroke, and are associated with increased neurodegeneration in peri-infarct regions. However, it is not known whether immune cells are also present in more distal sites where SND occurs. Our study aimed to investigate whether immune cells are present in sites of SND and, if so, how these cell populations compare to those in the peri-infarct zone. Cells were isolated from the thalamus, the main site of SND, and remaining brain tissue 14days post-stroke. Analysis was performed using flow cytometry to quantify microglia, myeloid cell and lymphocyte numbers. We identified a substantial infiltration of immune cells in the ipsilateral (stroked) compared to the contralateral (control) thalamus, with a significant increase in the percentage of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. This result was further quantified using immunofluorescent labelling of fixed tissue. In the remaining ipsilateral hemisphere tissue, there were significant increases in the frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, Ly6G+ neutrophils and both Ly6G-Ly6CLO and Ly6G-Ly6CHI monocytes. Our results indicate that infiltrating immune cells persist in ischemic tissue after the acute ischemic phase, and are increased in sites of SND. Importantly, immune cells have been shown to play pivotal roles in both damage and repair processes after stroke. Our findings indicate that immune cells may also be involved in the pathogenesis of SND and further clinical studies are warranted to characterise the nature of inflammatory cell infiltrates in human disease.


publication date

  • 2018