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Original research
Gene expression profiles of ischemic stroke clots retrieved by mechanical thrombectomy are associated with disease etiology


Background Determining stroke etiology is crucial for secondary prevention, but intensive workups fail to classify ~30% of strokes that are cryptogenic.

Objective To examine the hypothesis that the transcriptomic profiles of clots retrieved during mechanical thrombectomy are unique to strokes of different subtypes.

Methods We isolated RNA from the clots of 73 patients undergoing mechanical thrombectomy. Samples of sufficient quality were subjected to 100-cycle, paired-end RNAseq, and transcriptomes with less than 10 million unique reads were excluded from analysis. Significant differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between subtypes (defined by the Trial of Org 10 172 in Acute Stroke Treatment) were identified by expression analysis in edgeR. Gene ontology enrichment analysis was used to study the biologic differences between stroke etiologies.

Results In all, 38 clot transcriptomes were analyzed; 6 from large artery atherosclerosis (LAA), 21 from cardioembolism (CE), 5 from strokes of other determined origin, and 6 from cryptogenic strokes. Among all comparisons, there were 816 unique DEGs, 174 of which were shared by at least two comparisons, and 20 of which were shared by all three. Gene ontology analysis showed that CE clots reflected high levels of inflammation, LAA clots had greater oxidoreduction and T-cell processes, and clots of other determined origin were enriched for aberrant platelet and hemoglobin-related processes. Principal component analysis indicated separation between these subtypes and showed cryptogenic samples clustered among several different groups.

Conclusions Expression profiles of stroke clots were identified between stroke etiologies and reflected different biologic responses. Cryptogenic thrombi may be related to multiple etiologies.

  • Stroke
  • Thrombectomy
  • Genetic
  • Inflammation

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. We have provided a full list of differentially expressed genes in the Supplementary Data. Raw gene expression data is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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