Thrombus Aspirates From Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke Are Infiltrated by Viridans Streptococci

Olli Patrakka, Sari Tuomisto, Juha-Pekka Pienimäki, Jyrki Ollikainen, Niku Oksala, Vili Lampinen, Markus J T Ojanen, Heini Huhtala, Vesa P Hytönen, Terho Lehtimäki, Mika Martiskainen, Pekka J Karhunen

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BACKGROUND: Acute ischemic stroke may be due to embolism from ruptured atherosclerotic carotid arteries. DNA of oral bacteria, mainly the viridans streptococci group, has been detected in thrombus aspirates of patients with ischemic stroke as well as in carotid endarterectomy samples. Because viridans streptococci are known to possess thrombogenic properties, we studied whether their presence in thrombus aspirates and in carotid artery specimens can be confirmed using bacterial immunohistochemistry.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Thrombus aspirates from 61 patients with ischemic stroke (70.5% men; mean age, 66.8 years) treated with mechanical thrombectomy, as well as carotid endarterectomy samples from 20 symptomatic patients (65.0% men; mean age, 66.2 years) and 48 carotid artery samples from nonstroke autopsy cases (62.5% men; mean age, 66.4 years), were immunostained with an antibody cocktail against 3 species ( Streptococcus sanguinis, Streptococcus mitis, and Streptococcus gordonii) of viridans streptococci. Of the thrombus aspirates, 84.8% were immunopositive for viridans streptococci group bacteria, as were 80.0% of the carotid endarterectomy samples, whereas immunopositivity was observed in 31.3% of the carotid artery samples from nonstroke autopsies. Most streptococci were detected inside neutrophil granulocytes, but there were also remnants of bacterial biofilm as well as free bacterial infiltrates in some samples.

CONCLUSIONS: Oral streptococci were found in aspirated thrombi of patients with acute ischemic stroke as well as in carotid artery samples. Our results suggest that viridans streptococci group bacteria may play a role in the pathophysiology of ischemic stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere030639
JournalJournal of American Heart Association
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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