Cerebral thrombi of cardioembolic etiology have an increased content of neutrophil extracellular traps

Angela Genchi, Aurora Semerano, Giorgia Serena Gullotta, Davide Strambo, Ghil Schwarz, Andrea Bergamaschi, Pietro Panni, Franco Simionato, Francesco Scomazzoni, Caterina Michelozzi, Mattia Pozzato, Norma Maugeri, Giancarlo Comi, Andrea Falini, Luisa Roveri, Massimo Filippi, Gianvito Martino, Marco Bacigaluppi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Inflammation is emerging as an essential trigger for thrombosis. In the interplay between innate immunity and coagulation cascade, neutrophils and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) can promote thrombus formation and stabilization. In ischemic stroke, it is uncertain whether the involvement of the inflammatory component may differ in thrombi of diverse etiology. We here aimed to evaluate the presence of neutrophils and NETs in cerebral thrombi of diverse etiology retrieved by endovascular thrombectomy (EVT). Methods: We performed a systematic histological analysis on 80 human cerebral thrombi retrieved through EVT in acute ischemic stroke patients. Thrombus composition was investigated in terms of neutrophils (MPO+ cells) and NET content (citH3+ area), employing specific immunostainings. NET plasma content was determined and compared to NET density in the thrombus. Results: Neutrophils and NETs were heterogeneously represented within all cerebral thrombi. Thrombi of diverse etiology did not display a statistically significant difference in the number of neutrophils (p = 0.51). However, NET content was significantly increased in cardioembolic compared to large artery atherosclerosis thrombi (p = 0.04), and the association between NET content and stroke etiology remained significant after adjusted analysis (beta coefficient = −6.19, 95%CI = −11.69 to −1.34, p = 0.01). Moreover, NET content in the thrombus was found to correlate with NET content in the plasma (p ≤ 0.001, r = 0.62). Conclusion: Our study highlights how the analysis of the immune component within the cerebral thrombus, and specifically the NET burden, might provide additional insight for differentiating stroke from diverse etiologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117355
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2021


  • Immune cells
  • Interventional radiology
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Neutrophil extracellular traps
  • Thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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