"Gap junctions and stroke: an open and shut case?”
Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of mortality and disability; recent Canadian statistics indicate that stroke is the third leading cause of death (14,000 per year) in Canada (http://www.heartandstroke.com). Stroke costs the Canadian economy $3.6 billion a year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages, and decreased productivity. Developing new approaches to therapy is critical.
Understanding the cellular and molecular events in the brain during and after a stroke provides a foundation for developing new therapies and improving outcome and recovery.
A novel therapeutic avenue we have focused on relates to cellular effects mediated by gap junction proteins (connexins) which are prevalent in the astrocytes of the CNS and make unique intercellular channels and hemichannels. These channels provide a substrate for therapeutic strategies targeted to astrocytes rather than neurons, based on the premise that both cell types play critical roles in stroke recovery.
It is envisioned that a therapeutic approach combining neuronal signaling pathways with astrocyte mediated events should enhance protection following stroke.
*Christian’s second seminar; “Connexins in the tumor microenvironment: from migration to microRNA”, will further expand on the importance of connexins and how they may prompt recovery. This lecture will take place on Friday 19 May at the Maurice Wilkin’s Centre