Immune cells have been implicated in influencing stroke outcomes depending on their temporal dynamics, number, and spatial distribution after ischemia. Depending on their activation status, immune cells can have detrimental and beneficial properties on tissue outcome after stroke, highlighting the need to modulate inflammation towards beneficial and restorative immune responses. Novel dietary therapies may promote modulation of pro- and anti-inflammatory immune cell functions. Among the dietary interventions inspired by the Mediterranean diet, hydroxytyrosol (HT), the main phenolic component of the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), has been suggested to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro. However, immunomodulatory effects of HT have not yet been studied in vivo after stroke. 



The aim of this project is therefore to monitor the therapeutic effect of a HT-enriched diet in an experimental stroke model using non-invasive in vivo multimodal imaging, behavioural phenotyping and cross-correlation with ex vivo parameters.



A total of N = 22 male C57BL/6 mice were fed with either a standard chow (n = 11) or a HT enriched diet (n = 11) for 35 days, following a 30 min transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAo). T2-weighted (lesion) and perfusion (cerebral blood flow)-/diffusion (cellular density)-weighted MR images were acquired at days 1, 3, 7, 14, 21 and 30 post ischemia. [18F]DPA-714 (TSPO, neuroinflammation marker) PET-CT scans were acquired at days 7, 14, 21 and 30 post ischemia. Infarct volume (mm3), cerebral blood flow (mL/100g/min), apparent diffusion coefficient (10-4·mm2/s) and percentage of injected tracer dose (%ID/mL) were assessed. Behavioural tests (grip test, rotarod, open field, pole test) were performed prior and after ischemia to access therapy effects on sensorimotor functions. Ex vivo analyses (IHC, IF, WB) were performed to quantify TSPO expression, immune cells including microglia/macrophages (Iba-1, F4/80), astrocytes (GFAP) and peripheral markers in serum such as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and nitric oxide (NO) 35 days post ischemia. Additionally, gene expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory markers were assessed by rt-qPCR, including tspo, cd163, arg1, tnf and Il-1β.



No treatment effect was observed on temporal [18F]DPA-714 uptake within the ischemic and contralateral region (two-way RM ANOVA, p = 0.71). Quantification of the percentage of TSPO+ area by immunoreactivity indicated a slight 2-fold increase in TSPO expression within the infarct region in HT-fed mice at day 35 post ischemia (p = 0.011) correlating with a 2-3 fold increase in Iba-1+ cell population expressing CD163 as anti-inflammatory marker (R2 = 0.80). Most of the GFAP+ cells were TSPO-. Only few F4/80+ cells were observed at day 35 post ischemia in both groups. No significant treatment effect was observed on global ADC and CBF within the infarct and the contralateral region over time. Behavioural tests indicated improved strength of the forepaws at day 14 post ischemia (p = 0.031).



An HT-enriched diet significantly increased the number of Iba-1+ microglia/macrophages in the post-ischemic area, inducing higher expression of anti-inflammatory markers while no clear-cut effect was observed. Also, HT did not affect recovery of the cerebrovascular parameters, including ADC and CBF. Altogether, our data indicated that a prolonged dietary intervention with HT, as a single component of the Mediterranean diet, induces molecular changes that may improve stroke outcomes. Therefore, we support the use of the Mediterranean diet as a multicomponent therapy approach after stroke.



Barca, Cristina; Wiesmann, Maximilian; Calahorra, Jesús; Wachsmuth, Lydia; Döring, Christian; Foray, Claudia; Heiradi, Ali; Hermann, Sven; Ángeles Peinado, Maria; Siles, Eva; Faber, Cornelius; Schäfers, Michael; Kiliaan, Amanda J; Jacobs, Andreas H; Zinnhardt, B

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