Cytokines: their role in stroke and potential use as biomarkers and therapeutic targets

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Inflammatory mechanisms both in the periphery and in the CNS are important in the pathophysiologic processes occurring after the onset of ischemic stroke (IS). Cytokines are key players in the inflammatory mechanism and contribute to the progression of ischemic damage. This literature review focuses on the effects of inflammation on ischemic stroke, and the role pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines play on deleterious or beneficial stroke outcome. The discovery of biomarkers and novel therapeutics for stroke has been the focus of extensive research recently; thus, understanding the roles of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines that are up-regulated during stroke will help us further understand how inflammation contributes to the progression of ischemic damage and provide potential targets for novel therapeutics and biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of stroke.