The Impact of VEGF-C-Induced Dural Lymphatic Vessel Growth on Ischemic Stroke Pathology

Meike Hedwig Keuters, Salli Antila, Riikka Immonen, Lidiia Plotnikova, Sara Wojciechowski, Sarka Lehtonen, Kari Alitalo, Jari Koistinaho, Hiramani Dhungana

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Timely relief of edema and clearance of waste products, as well as promotion of anti-inflammatory immune responses, reduce ischemic stroke pathology, and attenuate harmful long-term effects post-stroke. The discovery of an extensive and functional lymphatic vessel system in the outermost meningeal layer, dura mater, has opened up new possibilities to facilitate post-stroke recovery by inducing dural lymphatic vessel (dLV) growth via a single injection of a vector encoding vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C). In the present study, we aimed to improve post-stroke outcomes by inducing dLV growth in mice. We injected mice with a single intracerebroventricular dose of adeno-associated viral particles encoding VEGF-C before subjecting them to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAo). Behavioral testing, Gadolinium (Gd) contrast agent-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and immunohistochemical analysis were performed to define the impact of VEGF-C on the post-stroke outcome. VEGF-C improved stroke-induced behavioral deficits, such as gait disturbances and neurological deficits, ameliorated post-stroke inflammation, and enhanced an alternative glial immune response. Importantly, VEGF-C treatment increased the drainage of brain interstitial fluid (ISF) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), as shown by Gd-enhanced MRI. These outcomes were closely associated with an increase in the growth of dLVs around the region where we observed increased vefgc mRNA expression within the brain, including the olfactory bulb, cortex, and cerebellum. Strikingly, VEGF-C-treated ischemic mice exhibited a faster and stronger Gd-signal accumulation in ischemic core area and an enhanced fluid outflow via the cribriform plate. In conclusion, the VEGF-C-induced dLV growth improved the overall outcome post-stroke, indicating that VEGF-C has potential to be included in the treatment strategies of post-ischemic stroke. However, to maximize the therapeutic potential of VEGF-C treatment, further studies on the impact of an enhanced dural lymphatic system at clinically relevant time points are essential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslational stroke research
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

Fields of Science

  • Dura mater
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Lymph
  • Lymphatic vessels
  • VEGF-C
  • 3124 Neurology and psychiatry
  • 3112 Neurosciences

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