Autoimmune Responses to the Brain After Stroke Are Associated With Worse Outcome
Background and Purpose—Immune responses to brain antigens occur after stroke, and experimental studies show that the likelihood of developing a detrimental autoimmune response to these antigens is increased by systemic inflammation at the time of stroke. The aim of this study was to determine if patients who developed infection in the poststroke period would be similarly predisposed to develop autoimmune responses to central nervous system antigens.
Methods—We enrolled 114 patients within 72 hours of ischemic stroke. Clinical and demographic data were obtained, and cellular immune responses to a panel of central nervous system antigens were assessed during the initial week and again at Day 90. Outcome was assessed using the modified Rankin Scale.
Results—Patients who developed an infection, especially pneumonia, in the 15 days after stroke were more likely to evidence a Th1(+) response to myelin basic protein and glial fibrillary acidic protein (P=0.019 and P=0.039, respectively) at 90 days after stroke. Further, more robust Th1 responses to myelin basic protein at 90 days were associated with a decreased likelihood of good outcome, even after adjusting for baseline stroke severity and patient age (OR, 0.477; 95% CI, 0.244 to 0.935; P=0.031).
Conclusions—This study demonstrates that immune responses to brain antigens occur after stroke. Although these responses are likely to be an epiphenomenon of ischemic brain injury, the response to myelin basic protein appears to have clinical consequences. The potential role of postischemic autoimmune-mediated brain injury deserves further investigation.
- Received March 7, 2011.
- Revision received March 31, 2011.
- Accepted April 25, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.