Monomeric C-Reactive Protein Aggravates Secondary Degeneration after Intracerebral Haemorrhagic Stroke and May Function as a Sensor for Systemic Inflammation

J Clin Med. 2020 Sep 22;9(9):3053. doi: 10.3390/jcm9093053.


Background: We previously identified increased tissue localization of monomeric C-reactive protein (mCRP) in the infarcted cortical brain tissue of patients following ischaemic stroke. Here, we investigated the relationship of mCRP expression in haemorrhagic stroke, and additionally examined the capacity of mCRP to travel to or appear at other locations within the brain that might account for later chronic neuroinflammatory or neurodegenerative effects.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry was performed on Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archived brain tissue blocks obtained at autopsy from stroke patients and age-matched controls. We modelled mCRP migration into the brain after haemorrhagic stroke by infusing mCRP (3.5 µg) into the hippocampus of mice and localized mCRP with histological and immunohistochemistry methods.

Results: On human tissue in the early stages of haemorrhage, there was no staining of mCRP. However, with increasing post-stroke survival time, mCRP immunostaining was associated with some parenchymal brain cells, some stroke-affected neurons in the surrounding areas and the lumen of large blood vessels as well as brain capillaries. Further from the peri-haematoma region, however, mCRP was detected in the lumen of micro-vessels expressing aquaporin 4 (AQP4). In the hypothalamus, we detected clusters of neurons loaded with mCRP along with scattered lipofuscin-like deposits. In the peri-haematoma region of patients, mCRP was abundantly seen adjacent to AQP4 immunoreactivity. When we stereotactically injected mCRP into the hippocampus of mice, we also observed strong expression in distant neurones of the hypothalamus as well as cortical capillaries.

Conclusions: mCRP is abundantly expressed in the brain after haemorrhagic stroke, directly impacting the pathophysiological development of the haematoma. In addition, it may have indirect effects, where the microcirculatory system appears to be able to carry it throughout the cortex as far as the hypothalamus, allowing for long-distance effects and damage through its capacity to induce inflammation and degenerate neuronal perivascular compartments.

Keywords: haemorrhagic stroke; hypothalamus; mCRP; micro-circulatory system; neuroinflammation.