Protein level may affect risk of stroke

29 June 2015

A new study has linked a specific protein to a person's chance of developing a stroke. Research on animal models found that a protein in the brain's tiniest blood vessels may affect the risk of stroke. 

Led by Peter Carlsson, professor in genetics at the University of Gothenburg, the study looked at how the blood-brain barrier develops and what makes the capillaries in the brain different from small blood vessels in other organs.

The findings, published in the journal Developmental Cell, determined that the smallest blood vessels in the brain are different because they are much more compact. This means nerve cells get the nutrients they need by molecules actively being transported from the blood to the brain, instead of passively leaking out from the blood vessels.

The blood-brain barrier is vital as it controls the substances that come into contact with the brain's nerve cells, while it also protects the brain. If this function fails, it can increase the risk of stroke.

In the latest research, the team found that the brain's capillaries contain the protein FoxF2, which is not present in other organs. It coordinates the changes that make the blood vessels compact. 

Professor Carlsson said models that have too little or too much FoxF2 develop various types of defects in the brain's blood vessels, and that the FoxF2 gene will be investigated for its role in people's risk of suffering a stroke.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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