P2Y12 receptors on platelets have long been the main target of antiplatelet drugs. However, a growing number of studies have revealed that P2Y12 receptor activation on microglia and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) also aggravates ischemic stroke injury. The proliferation and migration of VSMCs in the vascular wall have important influence on the early lesion of atherosclerosis, which may lead to the origin of cerebral ischemic attack of atherosclerosis. Blockage of cellular P2Y12 receptors could inhibit microglial activation, block formation of platelet-leukocyte aggregates, reduce proinflammatory cytokine levels and suppress migration and proliferation of VSMCs, implying that apart from anti-thrombotic effect, P2Y12 inhibitors have additional neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic therapeutic benefits against ischemic stroke. In this review, we will summarize recent advances in studies on P2Y12 receptors and emphatically introduce their significance in microglia, platelets and VSMCs after ischemic stroke, discussing how to exert the beneficial effects of P2Y12 inhibition.
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