Background: Cerebral ischaemia initiates an inflammatory response in the brain and periphery. We assessed the relationship between peak values of plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the first week after ischaemic stroke, with measures of stroke severity and outcome.
Methods: Thirty-seven patients with ischaemic stroke were prospectively recruited. Plasma IL-6, and other markers of peripheral inflammation, were measured at pre-determined timepoints in the first week after stroke onset. Primary analyses were the association between peak plasma IL-6 concentration with both modified Rankin score (mRS) at 3 months and computed tomography (CT) brain infarct volume.
Results: Peak plasma IL-6 concentration correlated significantly (p < 0.001) with CT brain infarct volume (r = 0.75) and mRS at 3 months (r = 0.72). It correlated similarly with clinical outcome at 12 months or stroke severity. Strong associations were also noted between either peak plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration or white blood cell (WBC) count, and all outcome measures.
Conclusions: These data provide evidence that the magnitude of the peripheral inflammatory response is related to the severity of acute ischaemic stroke, and clinical outcome.