Opioid antagonists as potential therapeutics for ischemic stroke (Abstract)

Opioid antagonists as potential therapeutics for ischemic stroke

Prog Neurobiol
November 2009

Chronic use of prescription opioids exacerbates risk and severity of ischemic stroke. Annually, 6 million people die from stroke worldwide and there are no neuroprotective or neurorestorative agents to improve stroke outcomes and promote recovery. Prescribed opioids such as morphine have been shown to alter tight junction protein expression, resulting in the disruption of the blood brain barrier (BBB), ultimately leading to stroke pathogenesis. Consequently, protection of the BBB has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy for ischemic stroke. This perspective addresses the deficiency in stroke pharmacological options and examines a novel application and repurposing of FDA-approved opioid antagonists as a prospective neuroprotective therapeutic strategy to minimize BBB damage, reduce stroke severity, and promote neural recovery. Future directions discuss potential drug design and delivery methods to enhance these novel therapeutic targets.

Keywords: Blood brain barrier; Ischemic stroke; Naloxone; Naltrexone; Neuroprotection; Opioid antagonist.