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Detection of cytokine-induced sickness behavior after ischemic stroke by an optimized behavioral assessment battery.

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Nov 14:S0889-1591(20)32392-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.11.016. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33197540.

Authors/Editors: Roth S, Yang J, Cramer JV, Malik R, Liesz A.
Publication Date: 2020


Stroke causes severe and long-lasting symptoms in patients. Besides focal deficits such as speech impairment and limb weakness, stroke also results in neuropsychiatric symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression, which are debilitating and often impair post-stroke rehabilitation. However, in experimental stroke research, the study of neuropsychiatric symptoms and their therapeutic targeting has so far been largely neglected, which can be mainly attributed to the lack of appropriate tools to investigate such deficits in mice.

Here, we report that neuropsychiatric symptoms can be differentiated from focal deficits and specifically modulated independent of treating the primary lesion. In order to achieve this, we developed a novel behavior analysis tool by assessing test performance of various tests, combining outcome parameters to cover functional domains of focal and neuropsychiatric symptoms, and finally weighted results into a time point-specific score. This weighted score enabled us to clearly differentiate focal deficits and neuropsychiatric symptoms and detect these until the chronic phase after stroke. Using this analysis tool, we detected that neutralizing systemic cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6) specifically ameliorated neuropsychiatric symptoms but did not affect focal deficits or lesion volume. Hence, most conventional studies analyzing only focal deficits and lesion volume as primary outcome measures would have missed these significant and translationally relevant therapeutic effects. We anticipate that these findings will encourage more detailed analyses of neuropsychiatric symptoms particularly for anti-inflammatory therapies in stroke and that the presented weighted composite score will facilitate this development.

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