Stroke-Damaged Neurons May Commit Cellular Suicide

Science  28 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5381, pp. 1302-1303
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5381.1302

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A long-standing puzzle in the neurology of strokes is what causes the gradual loss of neurons in the region outside the stroke's core, where the oxygen supply is reduced but not eliminated. Recent experiments in rats and mice now suggest a possible explanation: Some cells that might otherwise recover from the ischemia may be dying because the injury triggers programmed cell death, known as apoptosis. If this is the case, it suggests new approaches for limiting stroke damage and all the brain injuries that may occur in premature infants or those deprived of oxygen during birth. It might be possible, for example, to developo drugs taht work by inhibiting the caspases, the protein-clipping enzymes that orchestrate the cell's death program.