Ph.D. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
Stroke is the leading cause of permanent disability and death in the world. The therapy for acute stroke is still limited due to the complex mechanisms underlying stroke-induced neuronal death. The generation of a 17-kDa neurotoxic tau fragment was reported in Alzheimer’s disease but it has not been well studied in stroke. In this study, we observed the accumulation of 17-kDa tau fragment in cultured primary neurons and media after oxygen-glucose deprivation/reperfusion (OGD/R) treatment that could be diminished by the presence of a calpain inhibitor. This calpain-mediated proteolytic tau fragment was also detected in brain tissues from middle cerebral artery occlusion–injured rats and acute ischemic stroke patients receiving strokectomy, and human plasma samples collected within 48 h after the onset of stroke. The mass spectrometry analysis of this 17-kDa fragment identified 2 peptide sequences containing 195–224 amino acids of tau, which agrees with the previously reported tau45-230 or tau125-230 as the calpain-cleaved tau fragment. Ectopic expression of tau45-230-GFP but not tau125-230-GFP in cultured neurons induced the formation of tortuous processes without evident cell death. In summary, the 17-kDa tau fragment is a novel stroke biomarker and may play a pathophysiological role to affect post-stroke neuronal health.