Video: Memory, Mind and Mood after Stroke at Brain Health Day 2023
What is a stroke?
- A stroke is a neurological disorder that occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to a specific area of the brain, meaning the cells in the brain (neurons) are starved of oxygen and nutrients.
- 85% of strokes are ischemic, where an artery in the brain becomes blocked. The remaining 15% are hemorrhagic, caused by bleeding in the brain.
- Globally, every 3 seconds someone suffers from a stroke.
- Although many more patients are surviving a stroke, the cognitive problems that occur as a consequence are still a major concern. These include problems with memory, language, processing and concentration.
- Currently, there is no treatment for the cognitive problems and scientists are still trying to understand what exactly causes them.
Could the immune system be involved in causing the cognitive problems after stroke?
- Our immune response consists of specialised cell types, known as white blood cells, that help to fight infection and initiate repair after injury.
- When a stroke occurs, we know an immune response is initiated in the brain to help contain the damage and begin repair.
- However, scientists have found that this immune response can persist for a longer period of time than is necessary, leading to abnormal inflammation both in the brain and elsewhere in the body.
- Overtime, this can cause more damage to the brain and may potentially contribute to the cognitive problems seen in patients after a stroke.
How is ongoing work in Manchester addressing this problem?
- The Stroke-IMPaCT project, an ongoing study comprising research groups in both Europe and North America, is investigating how abnormal activation of the immune response may contribute to cognitive decline after stroke.
- The study consists of preclinical research, conducted in stroke models in the laboratory, and clinical research, involving patient volunteers who have suffered from a stroke.
- The clinical research compares stroke patient volunteers with healthy participants over the course of 3 years. At regular intervals, participants may have some or all of the following tests performed: an MRI scan, blood test and cognitive test.
- Along with the laboratory studies, this will allow scientists to understand how the immune system may be involved after a stroke, for example which immune cells are activated in stroke patients? Do changes in the immune system correlate with how well an individual performs in the cognitive tests? Could the presence of specific immune molecules help to identify patients at risk of developing cognitive problems?
- If you would like to find out more about this ground-breaking research and how you could potentially get involved visit: https://stroke-impact.org/