Element In Brain Repair After a Stroke Identified

News Brief by Rebecca Moragne


         A study supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) discovered that the growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10), a protein, works to repair neurological connections after stroke by prompting axonal sprouting. When a stroke occurs, a brain vessel is blocked, depriving nearby tissue of oxygen and other necessary nutrients. Repair mechanisms act to mend this damage. Repair mechanisms include axonal sprouting, where extensions called “sprouts” grow out of healthy neurons. “Sprouts” repair lost or damaged connections, preventing further effects of a stroke and decreasing current ones. GDF10 is suggested to start axonal sprouting because like axonal sprouting, GDF10 appears directly after a stroke and produces axonal growth. S. Thomas Carmichael, M.D., PhD., observed, “that GDF10 caused many different neurons in a dish to grow, including human neurons that were derived from stem cells” (McMakin). In addition, Dr. Carmichael tested mice’s motor functions after a stroke and discovered that GDF10 increased their rate of recovery.

         When GDF10 was blocked, the mouse performed worse on motor tasks. This difference suggests that without GDF10, repair mechanisms are inhibited and therefore, GDF10 is required for the function of these mechanisms. The discovery of the connection between GDF10 and repair mechanisms “may help to develop new therapeutic strategies to promote recovery,” as noted by Francesca Bosetti, Ph.D., the stroke program director at NINDS (McMakin). Increasing the understanding of the brain’s response to a stroke will help in further studies and research on how to reduce the detrimental effects of a stroke.


McMakin, B. (2015, Oct. 27). Scientists identify main component of brain repair after stroke. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/scientists-identify-main-component-brain-repair-after-stroke