Gene Expression Profiling

Through gene expression profiling, researchers are working to find ways to monitor brain health and predict future strokes, aneurisms and hemorrhages.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer and the leading neurologic cause of long-term disability. Minor strokes can go unnoticed for years before a major event causes disability or death. That’s why UC Davis Department of Neurology faculty members are working to find ways to monitor brain health and predict future life-threatening incidents — such as stroke, aneurism or hemorrhage — using simple blood tests.

microarray technologyUsing the latest microarray technology, researchers are creating gene expression profiles of people who have suffered strokes and other cerebrovascular disorders and comparing those to the gene expression profiles of healthy subjects and those who have suffered other cardiovascular events. They believe finding gene activity that has been altered by strokes and brain injury will point them to potential drug targets and treatments.

Gene Expression Profile Studies

brain scans

Recruitment is currently underway to enroll patients and controls in gene expression profile studies. For example, one study is looking to see whether gene expression profiles can allow them to distinguish between ischemic stroke (lack of blood supply caused by atherosclerosis), hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain that leads to stroke) and subarachnoid hemorrhage, bleeding into the space between the membrane covering the brain and the brain itself.

Department researchers are also:

  • Comparing gene expression profiles of men and women to discover genes that might be responsible for worse outcomes in stroke for women. 
  • Looking at the differences in profiles by race, hoping to discover why, for example, Blacks and white are prone to different types of strokes. 
  • Profiling healthy subjects, as well as those who have suffered heart attacks and pulmonary embolism to use as controls.
  • Following patients at high risk for stroke to see if those any particular gene expression profile correlates with incidence of stroke
  • Using animal models of stroke to verify gene expression profiles.
  • Working to simplify current methods so that, one day, they can be performed in minutes in a clinical setting.

The ultimate goals of these studies are to intervene and potentially prevent strokes.