Receptor-interacting protein kinase 2 (RIPK2) profoundly contributes to post-stroke neuroinflammation and behavioral deficits with microglia as unique perpetrators

Jonathan Larochelle, Ryland J. Tishko, Changjun Yang, Yong Ge, Leah T. Phan, Rachel E. Gunraj, Sofia M. Stansbury, Lei Liu, Mansour Mohamadzadeh, Habibeh Khoshbouei, Eduardo Candelario-Jalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Receptor-interacting protein kinase 2 (RIPK2) is a serine/threonine kinase whose activity propagates inflammatory signaling through its association with pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and subsequent TAK1, NF-κB, and MAPK pathway activation. After stroke, dead and dying cells release a host of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) that activate PRRs and initiate a robust inflammatory response. We hypothesize that RIPK2 plays a damaging role in the progression of stroke injury by enhancing the neuroinflammatory response to stroke and that global genetic deletion or microglia-specific conditional deletion of Ripk2 will be protective following ischemic stroke. Methods: Adult (3–6 months) male mice were subjected to 45 min of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO) followed by 24 h, 48 h, or 28 days of reperfusion. Aged male and female mice (18–24 months) were subjected to permanent ischemic stroke and sacrificed 48 h later. Infarct volumes were calculated using TTC staining (24–48 h) or Cresyl violet staining (28d). Sensorimotor tests (weight grip, vertical grid, and open field) were performed at indicated timepoints. Blood–brain barrier (BBB) damage, tight junction proteins, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and neuroinflammatory markers were assessed via immunoblotting, ELISA, immunohistochemistry, and RT-qPCR. Differential gene expression profiles were generated through bulk RNA sequencing and nanoString®. Results: Global genetic deletion of Ripk2 resulted in decreased infarct sizes and reduced neuroinflammatory markers 24 h after stroke compared to wild-type controls. Ripk2 global deletion also improved both acute and long-term behavioral outcomes with powerful effects on reducing infarct volume and mortality at 28d post-stroke. Conditional deletion of microglial Ripk2 (mKO) partially recapitulated our results in global Ripk2 deficient mice, showing reductive effects on infarct volume and improved behavioral outcomes within 48 h of injury. Finally, bulk transcriptomic profiling and nanoString data demonstrated that Ripk2 deficiency in microglia decreases genes associated with MAPK and NF-κB signaling, dampening the neuroinflammatory response after stroke injury by reducing immune cell activation and peripheral immune cell invasion. Conclusions: These results reveal a hitherto unknown role for RIPK2 in the pathogenesis of ischemic stroke injury, with microglia playing a distinct role. This study identifies RIPK2 as a potent propagator of neuroinflammatory signaling, highlighting its potential as a therapeutic target for post-stroke intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number221
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Blood–brain barrier injury
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Microglia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • RIPK2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology


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