Investigators from UCLA provide evidence that brain function may be able to be restored after a white matter stroke, a type of ischemic stroke, in animals.

White matter stroke—many of which are “silent,” in that they do not produce symptoms that lead to hospitalization—is a major cause of dementia, according to the release, from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences.

Unlike large artery blockages or transient ischemic attacks, individual white matter strokes, which occur in tiny blood vessels deep within the brain, typically go unnoticed but accumulate over time. They accelerate Alzheimer’s disease due to damage done to areas of the brain involved in memory, planning, walking and problem-solving, the release explains.

“Despite how common and devastating white matter stroke is there has been little understanding of how the brain responds and if it can recover,” says Dr Thomas Carmichael, senior author of the study and a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “By studying the mechanisms and limitations of brain repair in this type of stroke, we will be able to identify new therapies to prevent disease progression and enhance recovery.”

In the 5-year study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Carmichael and his team looked at white matter strokes in animals and found that the brain initiated repair by sending replacement cells to the site. However, the process stalled. After identifying and then blocking a molecular receptor as the likely culprit in stalling the repair, the animals used in the study began to recover from the stroke.

“White matter stroke is an important clinical target for the development of new therapies,” Carmichael states.

[Source(s): University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences, Sceince Daily]