Drug aids recovery of damaged neurons in stroke

May 25, 2022
Drug aids recovery of damaged neurons in stroke

A blood vessel blockage that interrupts blood flow to the brain and causes neuronal death is a cause of ischaemic stroke – it is notoriously hard to recover fine motor control lost to ischaemic stroke, for which long-term rehabilitation is often required. A team at Ohio State University (OSU) reveal that an existing drug could help recovery by boosting growth of undamaged neurons to take over lost function.

According to the OSU team, a drug known as gabapentin can restore motor functions as it rewires the undamaged part of the brain – usually located in the brain hemisphere opposite the stroke-affected region – to repair broken connections between neurons.

Gabapentin blocks the expression of a receptor protein called alpha2delta2, which can become “hyperexcited” after an injury like a stroke and prevents nerve axon growth that could patch up the damage. Gabapentin is already in use for neurological disorders in humans such as nerve pain and seizures, so its safety record and side effects are already known.

When the OSU team administered gabapentin daily for six weeks to mice following a stroke, the animals were seen to recover a great degree of fine motor function in their forelimbs. This improvement persisted two weeks after treatment ended, indicating that the changes were solidified in the nervous system.

“Imagine this protein is the brake pedal and recovery is the gas pedal. You can push on the gas pedal but can’t accelerate as long as you’re also pushing on the brake pedal,” said Andrea Tedeschi, an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in OSU’s College of Medicine.

“If you start lifting the brake pedal and continuously press on the gas, you can really speed up recovery. We think that is gabapentin’s effect on neurons, and there is a contribution of non-neuronal cells that tap into this process and make it even more effective,” he surmised.

Read: New finding to prevent plaque buildup and heart attack/stroke

Category: Education, Features

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