AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 3, 2017

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UTHealth Researchers Discover How to Train Damaging Inflammatory Cells to Promote Repair After Stroke

White blood cells called neutrophils are like soldiers in your body that form in the bone marrow and at the first sign of microbial attack, head for the site of injury just as fast as they can to neutralize invading bacteria or fungi using an armament of chemical weapons.

But when that injury is an intracerebral hemorrhage, which releases blood into the brain, neutrophils arrive at the point of battle only to discover that there’s no infection to attack. Unless immediately removed from the brain by other immune cells, they actually cause damage and deploy an array of toxic chemicals into the brain that worsen injury.

Now researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have discovered a way to temporarily suppress these soldiers’ pro-killing effect and turn them into beneficial weapons that scavenge for toxins, potentially opening a door for a therapeutic approach to hemorrhagic stroke treatment.

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