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Vaccine prevents stroke in rats

A vaccine that interferes with inflammation inside blood vessels greatly reduces the frequency and severity of strokes in spontaneously hypertensive, genetically stroke-prone rats, according to a new study from the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). If the vaccine works in humans, it could prevent many of the strokes that occur each year.

In the study, researchers used a nasal spray to deliver a protein that, under normal circumstances, contributes to inflammation of the cells that line the inner walls of blood vessels. Exposing rats to this substance, called E-selectin, programs blood cells called lymphocytes to monitor the blood vessel lining for the inflammatory protein. When these lymphocytes detect E-selectin, they produce substances that suppress inflammation.

The vaccine is the first treatment to target inflammation in blood vessels as a possible means of preventing stroke, says senior author John M. Hallenbeck, M.D., chief of the Stroke Branch at NINDS. "Clinically, stroke is hard to treat. If we can prevent it from happening, that's clearly the way to go," he adds. The study appears in the September 2002 issue of the journal Stroke.*

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the most common cause of disability in adults. Each year more than 500,000 Americans have a stroke, and about 150,000 die from stroke-related causes. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted, as with a blood clot (ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells (hemorrhagic stroke). Current stroke prevention strategies include reducing risk factors, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), or blocking the formation of blood clots using drugs such as aspirin and warfarin.

Animal studies have shown that blood vessels undergo periodic cycles of inflammation. These cycles are more fr
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Contact: Natalie Frazin or Margo Warren
301-496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
5-Sep-2002


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