Acute cerebral ischemia elicits an innate immune response that leads to a cascade of events that culminates in necrotic death of neurons and injury to their supportive structures in the neurovascular unit. Indeed, clinical studies have shown a close relationship between elevated levels of inflammatory markers and the risk for ischemic stroke. However, the signaling pathways that link these events are not well understood. A central regulator of inflammatory response is the transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB). The activation of NF-κB is required for the transcriptional induction of many proinflammatory mediators involved in innate immunity, such as cellular adhesion molecules, cytokines, and growth factors. Therefore, factors that modulate the activity of NF-κB could potentially regulate inflammatory processes in ischemic stroke. Here, we review the relationship between NF-κB and ischemic stroke, its role in the neurovascular unit, and discuss some animal models that suggest that this relationship is causal.
© 2010 New York Academy of Sciences.