Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the western world and the most important single cause of severe disability. Treatment within 6-8 hours greatly increases the chance of survival by preventing cell-mediated death. Apoptotic-receptor systems are thought to determine stroke-related damage in the brain, but the mechanisms involved remain largely unknown. In July Cell Death and Differentiation Martin-Villalba and colleagues at the German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg show that blocking apoptosis receptors CD95-ligand and TNF R1 dramatically improves survival and reduces disability in mice after stroke.

Martin-Villalba et al. exposed mice deficient for TNF (tnf-/-) or functional CD95L (gld) to brain ischaemia and found that they were protected against this kind of damage. In addition, treatment of wild-type mice following induction of ischaemia with antibodies against TNF and CD95L diminished infarct volumes and significantly improved survival of the animals. Intact functionality of rescued neurons...

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