Significance of Brain Tissue Oxygenation and the Arachidonic Acid Cascade in Stroke

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 May 15;14(10):1889-903. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3474. Epub 2010 Dec 4.


The significance of the hypoxia component of stroke injury is highlighted by hypermetabolic brain tissue enriched with arachidonic acid (AA), a 22:6n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid. In an ischemic stroke environment in which cerebral blood flow is arrested, oxygen-starved brain tissue initiates the rapid cleavage of AA from the membrane phospholipid bilayer. Once free, AA undergoes both enzyme-independent and enzyme-mediated oxidative metabolism, resulting in the formation of number of biologically active metabolites which themselves contribute to pathological stroke outcomes. This review is intended to examine two divergent roles of molecular dioxygen in brain tissue as (1) a substrate for life-sustaining homeostatic metabolism of glucose and (2) a substrate for pathogenic metabolism of AA under conditions of stroke. Recent developments in research concerning supplemental oxygen therapy as an intervention to correct the hypoxic component of stroke injury are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism
  • Brain Ischemia / therapy
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use
  • Stroke / metabolism*
  • Stroke / therapy


  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Oxygen