Increasing O-GlcNAcylation is neuroprotective in young and aged brains after ischemic stroke.


Spliced X-box binding protein-1 (XBP1s) together with the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP) and O-GlcNAcylation forms the XBP1s/HBP/O-GlcNAc axis. Our previous studies have provided evidence that activation of this axis is neuroprotective after ischemic stroke and critically, ischemia-induced O-GlcNAcylation is impaired in the aged brain. However, the XBP1s' neuroprotective role and its link to O-GlcNAcylation in stroke, as well as the therapeutic potential of targeting this axis in stroke, have not been well established. Moreover, the mechanisms underlying this age-related impairment of O-GlcNAcylation induction after brain ischemia remain completely unknown. In this study, using transient ischemic stroke models, we first demonstrated that neuron-specific overexpression of Xbp1s improved outcome, and pharmacologically boosting O-GlcNAcylation with thiamet-G reversed worse outcome observed in neuron-specific Xbp1 knockout mice. We further showed that thiamet-G treatment improved long-term functional recovery in both young and aged animals after transient ischemic stroke. Mechanistically, using an analytic approach developed here, we discovered that availability of UDP-GlcNAc was compromised in the aged brain, which may constitute a novel mechanism responsible for the impaired O-GlcNAcylation activation in the aged brain after ischemia. Finally, based on this new mechanistic finding, we evaluated and confirmed the therapeutic effects of glucosamine treatment in young and aged animals using both transient and permanent stroke models. Our data together support that increasing O-GlcNAcylation is a promising strategy in stroke therapy.





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Publication Info

Wang, Zhuoran, Xuan Li, Ivan Spasojevic, Liping Lu, Yuntian Shen, Xingguang Qu, Ulrike Hoffmann, David S Warner, et al. (2021). Increasing O-GlcNAcylation is neuroprotective in young and aged brains after ischemic stroke. Experimental neurology, 339. p. 113646. 10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113646 Retrieved from

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Ivan Spasojevic

Associate Professor in Medicine

Huaxin Sheng

Associate Professor in Anesthesiology

We have successfully developed various rodent models of brain and spinal cord injuries in our lab, such as focal cerebral ischemia, global cerebral ischemia, head trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, spinal cord ischemia and compression injury. We also established cardiac arrest and hemorrhagic shock models for studying multiple organ dysfunction.  Our current studies focus on two projects. One is to examine the efficacy of catalytic antioxidant in treating cerebral ischemia and the other is to examine the efficacy of post-conditioning on outcome of subarachnoid hemorrhage induced cognitive dysfunction.


Wei Yang

Professor in Anesthesiology

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