A New Molecular Target to Enhance Poststroke Cognitive Recovery

Project: Research project

Project Details


Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in U.S. and worldwide. Post-stroke cognitive impairment(PSCI), a common sequela after stroke, is a decisive determinant of the quality of life for stroke survivors.Clinical studies have indicated that PSCI is common in both young and old stroke patients, even in casesof relative mild stroke and victims with successful thrombolysis and endovascular reperfusion therapies.However, the underlying mechanisms of PSCI remains poorly understood and no FDA approved treatmentis available for PSCI. In this application, we propose to investigate the roles and therapeutic potential ofDKK3 in PSCI and the underlying mechanisms using an experimental stroke model of transient middlecerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) followed by reperfusion. Previous studies (including ours) havedemonstrated that mice subjected to transient MCAO developed long-term cognitive deficits that correlatewith secondary damage to the hippocampus. Based on our promising pilot data, we hypothesize that DKK3plays an important role not only in acute brain damage but also in secondary hippocampal damage andthereby represents a novel promising therapeutic target for treating cognitive impairment after ischemicstroke. First, we will determine the tempo-spatial regulation of DKK3 (and miR-125a) expression in thenormal and ischemic brains at different time points after stroke, and evaluate the efficacy of early treatmentversus delayed treatment by intranasal administration of recombinant DKK3 protein to ameliorate acutestroke injury and to improve long-term neurologic and cognitive outcomes after ischemic stroke (Aim1).Next, we will determine the mechanistic roles of DKK3 in neuropathology with the focus on the hippocampalmechanisms of PSCI after ischemic stroke (Aim 2). To test this hypothesis, the loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments will be performed, in which conventional and conditional DKK3 knockout mice andfunctional reconstitution study with recombinant DKK3 via intranasal drug delivery will be utilized. Basedon pilot data, we further hypothesize that ischemic stroke induces increase of miR-125a expression hencedown-regulates DKK3 expression in the hippocampus, which contributes to PSCI induced by transientMCAO (Aim 3). We will determine the DKK3-dependent effects of miR-125a inhibition to improve PSCIafter ischemic stroke. Both young adult and aged mice will be studied. The proposed studies may revealpreviously unappreciated mechanisms underlying PSCI and provide a novel therapeutic approach toimprove neurologic and cognitive outcomes following ischemic stroke.
Effective start/end date5/1/234/30/24


  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: $664,537.00


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