BACKGROUND: Stroke remains a leading cause of death and disability worldwide despite recent treatment breakthroughs. A primary event in stroke pathogenesis is the development of a potent and deleterious local and peripheral inflammatory response regulated by the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1). While the role of IL-1β (main released isoform) has been well studied in stroke, the role of the IL-1α isoform remains largely unknown. With increasing utilization of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) or thrombectomy to pharmacologically or mechanically remove ischemic stroke causing blood clots, respectively, there is interest in pairing successful cerebrovascular recanalization with neurotherapeutic pharmacological interventions (Fraser et al., J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 37:3531-3543, 2017; Hill et al., Lancet Neurol 11:942-950, 2012; Amaro et al., Stroke 47:2874-2876, 2016).

METHODS: Transient stroke was induced in mice via one of two methods. One group of mice were subjected to tandem ipsilateral common carotid artery and middle cerebral artery occlusion, while another group underwent the filament-based middle cerebral artery occlusion. We have recently developed an animal model of intra-arterial (IA) drug administration after recanalization (Maniskas et al., J Neurosci Met 240:22-27, 2015). Sub groups of the mice were treated with either saline or Il-1α, wherein the drug was administered either acutely (immediately after surgery) or subacutely (on the third day after stroke). This was followed by behavioral and histological analyses.

RESULTS: We now show in the above-mentioned mouse stroke models (transient tandem ipsilateral common carotid artery (CCA) and middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCA) occlusion, MCA suture occlusion) that IL-1α is neuroprotective when acutely given either intravenously (IV) or IA at low sub-pathologic doses. Furthermore, while IV administration induces transient hemodynamic side effects without affecting systemic markers of inflammation, IA delivery further improves overall outcomes while eliminating these side effects. Additionally, we show that delayed/subacute IV IL-1α administration ameliorates functional deficit and promotes neurorepair.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our present study suggests for the first time that IL-1α could, unexpectedly, be an effective ischemic stroke therapy with a broad therapeutic window.

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Published in Journal of Neuroinflammation, v. 16, issue 1, article no. 222.

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Health (Grant R21NS085660 and R01NS101752) to GB and EP.

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The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.