Cerebral ischemia is caused by arterial occlusion due to a thrombus or an embolus. Such occlusion induces multiple and concomitant pathophysiological processes that involve bioenergetic failure, acidosis, loss of cell homeostasis, excitotoxicity, and disruption of the blood-brain barrier. All of these mechanisms contribute to neuronal death, mainly via apoptosis or necrosis. The immune system is involved in this process in the early phases after brain injury, which contributes to potential enlargement of the infarct size and involves the penumbra area. Whereas inflammation and the immune system both exert deleterious effects, they also contribute to brain protection by stimulating a preconditioning status and to the concomitant repair of the injured parenchyma. This review describes the main phases of the inflammatory process occurring after arterial cerebral occlusion, with an emphasis on the role of single mediators.
Keywords: immune response; inflammation; ischemic stroke.