A potential new treatment to improve brain function after a stroke has been identified thanks to research born from the collaboration between the University of Lund, Sweden, the Neuropharmacology Laboratory of the Irccs Neuromed of Pozzilli (Is), the University of Washington, Saint Louis and Sapienza University of Rome. Conducted on animal models and published in the prestigious journal Brain, the research – explains a note – focused on a still little-studied aspect of the consequences of cerebral ischemia: the functional damage, which also affects the parts of the brain not directly affected by the stroke. In this field, rehabilitation plays its cards thanks to a particular receptor present on the membrane of neurons (metabotropic glutamate receptor type 5, mGlu5) which can play an important role. The findings therefore pave the way for a new understanding of what happens to the brain after a stroke.
“In scientific work – states Federica Mastroiacovo, Neuromed researcher – we have demonstrated with genetic and pharmacological strategies that the inhibition of the mGlu5 receptor favors a significant recovery of the sensorimotor deficit caused by the pathology”. In fact, in a stroke, “an area of brain tissue – continues researcher Luisa Di Menna – is directly and irreparably damaged. However, there are other brain areas, perhaps distant, which can undergo dysfunction even if they are not directly involved in the ischemia. We can think of it as a disorganization of nervous networks: the neurons are intact, but the communications are disturbed. The restoration of these networks – she adds – is a key element in the recovery that we observe thanks to rehabilitation ”.
Inhibition of the mGluR5 receptor, according to the results of the research, could help reactivate neuronal networks, accelerating recovery. “Currently – underlines Ferdinando Nicoletti, full professor of Pharmacology at La Sapienza University of Rome and head of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory of Irccs Neuromed – we do not have drugs available that can play a decisive role in aiding recovery after a stroke. This is why this study represents the possibility of pharmacological support that would effectively accompany common rehabilitation procedures.”