Target for stroke therapy discovered in blood brain barrier

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Scientists have discovered an effective therapeutic target for life changing strokes which could help improve quality of life for patients.

A new study has shown that a stroke byproduct called acrolein activates the precursor of heparanase, an enzyme that degrades the glycocalyx (a protective layer of sugar) in the blood-brain barrier, which prevents the entry of unnecessary circulating cells and biomolecules into the brain. The researchers from Japan and the United States wanted to explore how the degradation of the glycocalyx takes place during an ischemic stroke, discovering the therapeutic target for treatment.

In the event of a stroke, which results in the blockage or severance of blood vessels in the brain, glycocalyx and the integrity of the blood brain barrier are compromised and damage to the blood vessels leads to neuronal death and the build-up of toxic byproducts like acrolein.

The study has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Breakdown of the blood brain barrier

The scientists, led by Researcher and Junior Associate Professor Kyohei Higashi from Tokyo University of Science, have identified a possible mechanism that links acrolein accumulation to glycocalyx modifications, which results in damage to the blood brain barrier…

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