Ischemic conditioning-induced endogenous brain protection: Applications pre-, per- or post-stroke

Yuechun Wang, Cesar Reis, Richard Lee Applegate, Gary Stier, Robert Martin, John H. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


In the area of brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases, a plethora of experimental and clinical evidence strongly indicates the promise of therapeutically exploiting the endogenous adaptive system at various levels like triggers, mediators and the end-effectors to stimulate and mobilize intrinsic protective capacities against brain injuries. It is believed that ischemic pre-conditioning and post-conditioning are actually the strongest known interventions to stimulate the innate neuroprotective mechanism to prevent or reverse neurodegenerative diseases including stroke and traumatic brain injury. Recently, studies showed the effectiveness of ischemic per-conditioning in some organs. Therefore the term ischemic conditioning, including all interventions applied pre-, per- and post-ischemia, which spans therapeutic windows in 3 time periods, has recently been broadly accepted by scientific communities. In addition, it is extensively acknowledged that ischemia-mediated protection not only affects the neurons but also all the components of the neurovascular network (consisting of neurons, glial cells, vascular endothelial cells, pericytes, smooth muscle cells, and venule/veins). The concept of cerebroprotection has been widely used in place of neuroprotection. Intensive studies on the cellular signaling pathways involved in ischemic conditioning have improved the mechanistic understanding of tolerance to cerebral ischemia. This has added impetus to exploration for potential pharmacologic mimetics, which could possibly induce and maximize inherent protective capacities. However, most of these studies were performed in rodents, and the efficacy of these mimetics remains to be evaluated in human patients. Several classical signaling pathways involving apoptosis, inflammation, or oxidation have been elaborated in the past decades. Newly characterized mechanisms are emerging with the advances in biotechnology and conceptual renewal. In this review we are going to focus on those recently reported methodological and mechanistic discoveries in the realm of ischemic conditioning. Due to the varied time differences of ischemic conditioning in different animal models and clinical trials, it is important to define optimal timing to achieve the best conditioning induced neuroprotection. This brings not only an opportunity in the treatment of stroke, but challenges as well, as data is just becoming available and the procedures are not yet optimized. The purpose of this review is to shed light on exploiting these ischemic conditioning modalities to protect the cerebrovascular system against diverse injuries and neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-40
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Innate cerebroprotection
  • Ischemia
  • Perconditioning
  • Postconditioning
  • Preconditioning
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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