Stroke causes brain dysfunction and neuron death, and the lack of effective therapies heightens the need for new therapeutic targets. Here we identify prokineticin 2 (PK2) as a mediator for cerebral ischemic injury. PK2 is a bioactive peptide initially discovered as a regulator of gastrointestinal motility. Multiple biological roles for PK2 have been discovered, including circadian rhythms, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis. However, the role of PK2 in neuropathology is unknown. Using primary cortical cultures, we found that PK2 mRNA is up-regulated by several pathological stressors, including hypoxia, reactive oxygen species, and excitotoxic glutamate. Glutamate-induced PK2 expression is dependent on NMDA receptor activation and extracellular calcium. Enriched neuronal culture studies revealed that neurons are the principal source of glutamate-induced PK2. Using in vivo models of stroke, we found that PK2 mRNA is induced in the ischemic cortex and striatum. Central delivery of PK2 worsens infarct volume, whereas PK2 receptor antagonist decreases infarct volume and central inflammation while improving functional outcome. Direct central inhibition of PK2 using RNAi also reduces infarct volume. These findings indicate that PK2 can be activated by pathological stimuli such as hypoxia-ischemia and excitotoxic glutamate and identify PK2 as a deleterious mediator for cerebral ischemia.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1113363109
View details for Web of Science ID 000302294700073
View details for PubMedID 22431614
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3325724