Interleukin Inhibitor May be an Effective Stroke Treatment

Treatment with an intereleukin-1 receptor antagonist may prevent stroke damage.

In a recent study, researchers found that a newer drug could potentially reduce brain damage that results from a stroke, and could also repair any damage that was caused.

There are currently limited options for patients who have experienced a stroke, which is a main cause of death and disability due to a lack of blood flow to the brain. The standard treatment for ischemic strokes is called plasminogen activator (tPA).

This treatment dissolves clots in blood vessels in the brain that caused the stroke, and restores blood flow and oxygen to the brain, so death and disability will be prevented. However, ideal administration of tPA is within 90 minutes of the stroke occurrence, since the drug becomes ineffective after 4.5 hours.

These constraints prevent many patients from receiving proper care, and can potentially lead to mental or physical disability.

The study, published by Brain, Behavior and Immunity, demonstrates that an interleukin receptor antagonist was able to prevent brain damage and promote neurogenesis in rodent models. Researchers also found that new neurons were increased several days after treatment with the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist.

In the trial, subcutaneous injections of interleukin-1 receptor antagonists were given at 3 and 6 hours after stroke. Researchers then evaluated the rodents through motor, behavioral, and cylinder tests prior to and after receiving treatment with the drug.

Mice treated with the drug demonstrated a reduction in ischemic damage up to 46% at 7 days after stroke, according to the study. These mice also had an increased amount of immature neurons in the brain, especially in damaged areas, compared with mice that received the placebo.

Stroke and comorbidities are associated with an increased expression of interleukin-1, and by inhibiting these cytokines, the drug elicits the neuroprotective effect seen by the researchers. The anti-inflammatory drug has already been approved as a treatment for certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which may allow for an easier regulatory approval process for this indication.

Researchers at The University of Manchester have already begun conducting clinical trials for this treatment for strokes; however, it has not received regulatory approval for this condition.

Previous attempts at finding a novel drug to prevent brain damage resulting from a stroke has been unsuccessful, and these findings suggest that this drug can be developed as a novel treatment for stroke.

The use of an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist could potentially be more successful than other investigational treatments since it has the ability to create new cells, which may assist in increasing function in areas of the brain that were damaged, according to the study.

Earlier studies from this research team have shown that treatment with this drug helped rodent models regain motor skills that were lost as a result of a stroke. The underlying mechanisms behind the drug’s actions are still unknown, and require additional studies to discover this occurrence.

“The results lend further strong support to the use of IL-1Ra in the treatment of stroke, however further large trials are necessary,” concluded lead researcher Stuart Allan BSc, PhD.