Contrasting roles of immune cells in tissue injury and repair in stroke: The dark and bright side of immunity in the brain

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Despite considerable efforts in research and clinical studies, stroke is still one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Originally, stroke was considered a vascular thrombotic disease without significant immune involvement. However, over the last few decades it has become increasingly obvious that the immune responses can significantly contribute to both tissue injury and protection following stroke. Recently, much research has been focused on the immune system's role in stroke pathology and trying to elucidate the mechanism used by immune cells in tissue injury and protection. Since the discovery of tissue plasminogen activator therapy in 1996, there have been no new treatments for stroke. For this reason, research into understanding how the immune system contributes to stroke pathology may lead to better therapies or enhance the efficacy of current treatments. Here, we discuss the contrasting roles of immune cells to stroke pathology while emphasizing myeloid cells and T cells. We propose that focusing future research on balancing the beneficial-versus-detrimental roles of immunity may lead to the discovery of better and novel stroke therapies.

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