Nerve cell death and memory deficits in a rat model of stroke can be prevented by the suppression of a certain ion channel, reports a study published online this week in Nature Neuroscience. This research has potential implications for treatment of stroke in humans.
About 17 million people die of stroke every year and it is a leading cause of disability. Brain ischemia, or lack of blood flow, in stroke leads to a host of devastating consequences, including neuronal death and loss of brain function, which ultimately lead to deficits in motor skills, speech, and memory.
Michael Tymianski and colleagues have devised a treatment to ameliorate these consequences in rats that underwent stroke-like brain ischemia. The researchers suppressed a specific type of channel, TRPM7, in the brains of rats, specifically in hippocampal neurons which are known to be crucial for memory. This suppression prevented the death of the brain cells and preserved their shape and function. Furthermore, in memory tests, these rats performed as well as non-ischemic rats. Rats that underwent the stroke-like brain ischemia, but did not have TRPM7 suppressed showed expected nerve cell death and deficits in memory.