Tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 and 2 (TNFR1 and TNFR2) have been found in brain parenchyma of stroke patients, and plasma levels are increased in the acute phase of stroke. We evaluated associations between TNFR1 and TNFR2 plasma levels and stroke severity, infarct size, and functional outcome. Furthermore, we examined cellular expression of TNFR1 and TNFR2 on leukocyte subpopulations to explore the origin of the increased receptor levels. Blood samples were taken from 33 acute ischemic stroke patients and 10 healthy controls. TNFR1 and TNFR2 plasma concentrations were measured and correlated against the Scandinavian Stroke Scale at admission, infarct volume, and the modified Rankin Scale score three months after stroke onset. Classical, intermediate, and non-classical monocytes as well as neutrophils were purified, and cellular expression of TNFR1 and TNFR2 was examined using flow cytometry. TNFR1 and TNFR2 plasma levels were both increased after ischemic stroke, but we found no correlation with patient outcome measurements. Compared to healthy controls, ischemic stroke patients had decreased non-classical monocyte and neutrophil populations expressing TNFR1 and increased neutrophils expressing TNFR2, and decreased non-classical populations co-expressing both TNFR1 and TNFR2. This study supports the hypothesis of an acute immunological response orchestrated by the peripheral immune system following an ischemic stroke. However, the origin of the increased TNFR1 and TNFR2 plasma levels could not be clearly linked to peripheral monocytes or neutrophils. Future studies are needed and will help clarify the potential role as treatment target.
Keywords: apoplexy; inflammation; monocytes; stroke; tumor necrosis factor receptor.