Delayed diapedesis of CD8 T cells contributes to long-term pathology after ischemic stroke in male mice

Uma Maheswari Selvaraj, Thomas A. Ujas, Xiangmei Kong, Ashwani Kumar, Erik J. Plautz, Shanrong Zhang, Chao Xing, Tiffany L. Sudduth, Donna M. Wilcock, Jadwiga Turchan-Cholewo, Mark P. Goldberg, Ann M. Stowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective: Stroke is a debilitating disorder with significant annual mortality and morbidity rates worldwide. Immune cells are recruited to the injured brain within hours after stroke onset and can exhibit either protective or detrimental effects on recovery. However, immune cells, including CD8 T cells, persist in the injured brain for weeks, suggesting a longer-term role for the adaptive immune system during functional recovery. The aim of this study was to determine if the delayed secondary diapedesis of CD8 T cells into the ischemic brain negatively impacts functional recovery after transient ischemic stroke in male mice. Results: Mice exhibited an increased number of leukocytes in the ipsilesional hemispheres at 14 days (3-fold; p < 0.001) and 30 days (2.2-fold; p = 0.02) after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAo) compared to 8 days post-tMCAo, at which time acute neuroinflammation predominantly resolves. Moreover, mice with higher ipsilesional CD8 T cells at 30 days (R2 = 0.52, p < 0.01) exhibited worse functional recovery. To confirm a detrimental role of chronic CD8 T cell diapedesis on recovery, peripheral CD8 T cells were depleted beginning 10 days post-tMCAo. Delayed CD8 T cell depletion improved motor recovery on the rotarod (F(1,28) = 4.264; p = 0.048) compared to isotype control-treated mice. CD8 T cell-depleted mice also exhibited 2-fold (p < 0.001) reduced leukocyte infiltration at 30 days post-tMCAo. Specifically, macrophage, neutrophil, and CD4 T cell numbers were reduced in the ipsilesional hemisphere of the CD8 T cell-depleted mice independent of inflammatory status of the post-stroke CNS (e.g. microglial phenotype and cytokine production). RNAseq identified a unique profile for brain infiltrating CD8 T cells at 30 days post-tMCAo, with 46 genes differentially expressed relative to CD8 T cells at 3 days post-tMCAo. Conclusion: Our data reveal a role for CD8 T cells in the chronic phase post-stroke that can be therapeutically targeted. We demonstrate long-term CD8 T cell recruitment into the ipsilesional hemisphere that affects both immune cell numbers present in the injured brain and functional recovery through one month after stroke onset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-513
Number of pages12
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • CD8 T cells
  • Functional recovery
  • Inflammation
  • Motor deficits
  • Stroke
  • Transient middle cerebral artery occlusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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