Complications of a Stroke: Susceptibility to Infections

By Min Seo Jeong

Having a stroke causes many detrimental effects on the brain, but research shows that a stroke can also have long-term effects on the body’s immune system.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute examined the effects of stroke on mice and found that mice that experienced a stroke were more likely to have bacterial lung infections. During a stroke, the nerves produce a chemical called noradrenaline. This chemical has multiple effects: increasing blood supply, raising heart rates, and releasing stored energy. However, noradrenaline also limits the number of marginal zone B cells, which are immune cells that produce antibodies. A result of this effect is damaged immune cells, making stroke patients more prone to infections that can be life-threatening.

In the mice, the researchers used therapies to block the effects of noradrenaline and ultimately decrease their susceptibility to infections. They warned against this treatment in humans and emphasized the importance of finding new treatments to help stroke patients recover.

Dr. Barry McColl, one of the researchers at the institute, says that the goal is now to "build on our findings by developing and testing new treatments that can block or bypass these immune deficits with B cells a particular target."


University of Edinburgh. "Immune discovery points to therapies to improve stroke recovery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2017.