Stroke is responsible for 1 out of every 18 deaths in the US with ischemic stroke, by far, the most common stroke etiology (87%). Mortality and morbidity, for those that survive ischemic stroke, result from cerebral injury caused by severely reduced blood flow to localized brain areas (cerebral ischemia) and accompanied pro- inflammatory responses that occur when blood flow returns to the ischemic tissue (reperfusion injury). Cerebral injury caused by ischemic stroke and reperfusion correlates with immune cell and pro-inflammatory responses, with clear evidence identifying microglia, the resident brain immune cell, as a dominate early responder in stroke. In response to injury and disease, microglia cell morphology changes from resting (small cell body with long active processes) to various stages of activation (enlarging cell bodies and retracting/thickening processes) to reflect their physiologic and pathologic environments. Functionally, microglia have two divergent responses to injury, producing (1) pro-inflammatory and (2) pro-survival/neurotrophic factors. Our objective, presented in this project, is to link microglia morphology to microglia function and to determine whether astrocyte-microglia interactions contribute to microglia morphologic changes after ischemic stroke and reperfusion. Our central hypothesis is that measures of activated microglia morphology and pro-inflammatory function will positively correlate to areas of increased cerebral injury in a spatial and temporal manner and that astrocyte-microglia interactions contributes to increased microglia activation after ischemic stroke and reperfusion. We will use, in a mouse model of ischemic stroke and reperfusion, immunohistochemical and novel image analysis methods in fixed brain tissue as well as, in live brain slices, high speed confocal imaging techniques to address two main issues.
In Aim 1 we will identify activated microglia morphology and function in a spatial and temporal relationship to cerebral injury after ischemic stroke and reperfusion.
In Aim 2 we will determine how astrocyte-microglia communication alters microglia morphology after ischemic stroke and reperfusion. This study will increase our understanding of microglia actions and function after ischemic stroke and reperfusion as well as elucidating microglia-astrocyte interactions that alter microglia activation after ischemic stroke. Such an understanding of the contribution of localized immune responses and glia-to-glia interactions to cerebral injury after ischemic stroke and reperfusion will direct he development of future novel stroke therapies.

Public Health Relevance

The outcomes of the proposed research project will serve the growing number of people who suffer a stroke each year by increasing our understanding of how brain cells contribute to brain injury after stroke. Findings from this application are intende to provide knowledge that will lead towards the development of new stroke therapies that will limit brain injury, extend healthy life, and reduce disability from ischemic stroke. An additional outcome of the proposed research plan will be to prepare, through focused training and mentoring, a research scientist and future nurse educator who, over the course of her career, will make significant contributions toward 1) understanding causes of brain injury after stroke, 2) the care of people who experience this kind of injury and 3) the education of future nurses who will care for stroke patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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National Institute of Nursing Research Initial Review Group (NRRC)
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Banks, David
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Georgia Regents University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Morrison, Helena W; Filosa, Jessica A (2013) A quantitative spatiotemporal analysis of microglia morphology during ischemic stroke and reperfusion. J Neuroinflammation 10:4