Beneficial Effects of Theta-Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Stroke Injury via Improving Neuronal Microenvironment and Mitochondrial Integrity

Xuemei Zong, Yan Dong, Yuyu Li, Luodan Yang, Yong Li, Baocheng Yang, Lorelei Tucker, Ningjun Zhao, Darrell W. Brann, Xianliang Yan, Shuqun Hu, Quanguang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Recent work suggests that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may beneficially alter the pathological status of several neurological disorders, although the mechanism remains unclear. The current study was designed to investigate the effects of rTMS on behavioral deficits and potential underlying mechanisms in a rat photothrombotic (PT) stroke model. From day 0 (3 h) to day 5 after the establishment of PT stroke, 5-min daily continuous theta-burst rTMS (3 pulses of 50 Hz repeated every 200 ms, intensity at 200 G) was applied on the infarct hemisphere. We report that rTMS significantly attenuated behavioral deficits and infarct volume after PT stroke. Further investigation demonstrated that rTMS remarkably reduced synaptic loss and neuronal degeneration in the peri-infarct cortical region. Mechanistic studies displayed that beneficial effects of rTMS were associated with robust suppression of reactive micro/astrogliosis and the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as oxidative stress and oxidative neuronal damage especially at the late stage following PT stroke. Intriguingly, rTMS could effectively induce a shift in microglial M1/M2 phenotype activation and an A1 to A2 switch in astrocytic phenotypes. In addition, the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines and mitochondrial MnSOD in peri-infarct regions were elevated following rTMS treatment. Finally, rTMS treatment efficaciously preserved mitochondrial membrane integrity and suppressed the intrinsic mitochondrial caspase-9/3 apoptotic pathway within the peri-infarct cortex. Our novel findings indicate that rTMS treatment exerted robust neuroprotection when applied at least 3 h after ischemic stroke. The underlying mechanisms are partially associated with improvement of the local neuronal microenvironment by altering inflammatory and oxidative status and preserving mitochondrial integrity in the peri-infarct zone. These findings provide strong support for the promising therapeutic effect of rTMS against ischemic neuronal injury and functional deficits following stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-467
Number of pages18
JournalTranslational Stroke Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Apoptosis
  • Functional recovery
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Neuroprotection
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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