Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) is a robust neuroprotective phenomenon in which a brief period of cerebral ischemia confers transient tolerance to subsequent ischemic challenge. Research on IPC has implicated cellular, molecular, and systemic elements of the immune response in this phenomenon. Potent molecular mediators of IPC include innate immune signaling pathways such as Toll-like receptors and type 1 interferons. Brain ischemia results in release of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that orchestrate the neuroinflammtory response, resolution of inflammation, and transition to neurological recovery and regeneration. Cellular mediators of IPC include microglia, the resident central nervous system immune cells, astrocytes, and neurons. All of these cell types engage in cross-talk with each other using a multitude of signaling pathways that modulate activation/suppression of each of the other cell types in response to ischemia. As the postischemic neuroimmune response evolves over time there is a shift in function toward provision of trophic support and neuroprotection. Peripheral immune cells infiltrate the central nervous system en masse after stroke and are largely detrimental, with a few subtypes having beneficial, protective effects, though the role of these immune cells in IPC is largely unknown. The role of neural progenitor cells in IPC-mediated neuroprotection is another active area of investigation as is the role of microglial proliferation in this setting. A mechanistic understanding of these molecular and cellular mediators of IPC may not only facilitate more effective direct application of IPC to specific clinical scenarios, but also, more broadly, reveal novel targets for therapeutic intervention in stroke.
Keywords: Ischemic preconditioning; interferon; microglia; progenitors.; stroke; toll-like receptor.