In cerebral stroke an interruption of blood flow to the brain causes neuronal death. Several molecules have emerged in recent years as potentially protective for hypoxic neurons and may be of use in the treatment of stroke. In March Nature Medicine two groups report the identification of different proteins having these protective properties.

Takao Sakai and colleagues from Lund University in Sweden studied plasma fibronectin-deficient adult mice using Cre-loxP conditional gene-knockout technology. Fibronectin is a normal factor of wound healing but Sakai et al report the surprising result that although fibronectin is dispensable for wound healing in these mice, plasma fibronectin has a role in neuronal protection following focal cerebral ischemia. At two and seven days after ischemia, infarction volumes in the Cre-loxP mice were significantly greater (P = 0.045) than those of control mice (Nature Med 2001, 7:324-330).

In a second paper, Michio Tamatani and colleagues...

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