The recent advances of endovascular procedures to treat stroke due to large cerebral vessel occlusion have made it possible to analyze the retrieved thrombus material. Analysis of cerebral thrombi is emerging as a relevant opportunity to complement the diagnostic workup of etiology, to develop new lytic approaches and to optimize the acute treatment of stroke due to large vessel occlusion. Nonetheless, retrieved thrombi are frequently discarded since their informative potential is often neglected and standards are missing. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge and expanding research relating to thrombus composition analysis in large vessel occlusions. We first discuss the heterogeneity of thrombogenic factors that underlie the thrombotic formation in stroke and its implications to identify stroke etiology and thrombus age. Further, we show that understanding structural characteristics of thrombus is pivotal for the development of new-targeted lytic therapies as well as to improve, through thrombus modeling, the development of thrombectomy devices. Finally, we discuss the on-going attempts to identify a signature of thrombus composition indirectly through imaging and peripheral blood biomarkers, which might in future assist treatment decision-making as well as secondary prevention. Thrombus analysis might contribute to the advancement and optimization of personalized stroke treatments.
Keywords: Thrombus; histology; inflammation; stroke; thrombectomy.