Neuroprotection targeting ischemic penumbra and beyond for the treatment of ischemic stroke

Ran Liu, Hui Yuan, Fang Yuan, Shao Hua Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Neuroprotection to attenuate or block the ischemic cascade and salvage neuronal damage has been extensively explored for the treatment of ischemic stroke. In the last two decades, neuroprotective strategy has been evolving from targeting a signal pathway in neurons to protecting all neurovascular components and improving cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interaction that ultimately benefits the brain recovery after ischemic stroke. The progression from potentially reversible to irreversible injury in the ischemic penumbra has provided the opportunity to develop therapies to attenuate the ischemic stroke damage. Thus, the ischemic penumbra has been the main target for the current neuroprotective intervention. However, despite our increasing knowledge of the physiologic, mechanistic, and imaging characterizations of the ischemic penumbra, no effective neuroprotective therapy has been found so far for the treatment of ischemic stroke. The current acute neuroprotective approach focusing on the damaging mechanisms at the ischemic penumbra is greatly limited by the rapid evolution of the deleterious cascades in the ischemic penumbra. Neuroprotective intervention attempts to promote endogenous repairing in the transition zone of the penumbra for the therapeutic purposes may overcome the unrealistic therapeutic windows under the current neuroprotective strategy. In addition, increasing evidence has indicated ischemic stroke could induce long-lasing cellular and hemodynamic changes beyond the ischemic territory. It is unclear whether and how the global responses induced by the ischemic cascade contribute to the progression of cognitive impairment after ischemic stroke. The prolonged pathophysiological cascades induced by ischemic stroke beyond the ischemic penumbra might provide novel therapeutic opportunities for the neuroprotective intervention, which could prevent or slow down the progression of vascular dementia after ischemic stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-337
Number of pages7
JournalNeurological Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Ischemia
  • Neuroprotection
  • Penumbra
  • Stroke


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