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Neurol Res. 2003 Jul;25(5):457-64.

Effect of mild hypothermia on focal cerebral ischemia. Review of experimental studies.

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Department of Neurosurgery, National Defense Medical College, Namiki 3-2, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-8513, Japan.


The purposes of this review are to clarify the effect of hypothermia therapy on focal cerebral ischemia in rats, and to consider the relevancy of its application to human focal cerebral ischemia. Since 1990, 26 reports confirming the brain-protecting effect of hypothermia in rat focal cerebral ischemia models have been published. Seventy-four experimental groups in these 26 reports were classified as having transient middle cerebral arterial occlusion (MCAO) with mild hypothermia (group A; 43 groups), permanent MCAO with mild hypothermia (group B; 14 groups), permanent MCAO with deep hypothermia (group C; 8 groups) and transient or permanent MCAO with mild hyperthermia (group D; 9 groups). The results were evaluated as the % infarct volume change caused by hypothermia or hyperthermia compared with the infarct volume in normothermic animals. The effectiveness was confirmed in 36 (83%) of the 43 groups in group A, 10 (71%) of the 14 in group B, and six (75%) of the eight in group C. The infarct volume of eight of the nine groups in group D was markedly aggravated. The percent infarct volume change was 55.3% +/- 27.1% in group A, 57.6% +/- 24.7% in group B, 60.8% +/- 45.5% in group C, and 189.7% +/- 89.4% in group D. For effective reduction of the infarct volume, hypothermia should be started during ischemia or within 1 h, at latest, after the beginning of reperfusion in the rat transient MCAO model. However, it is not clear whether this neuroprotective effect of hypothermia can also be observed in the chronic stage, such as several months later. Keeping the body temperature normothermic in order to avoid mild hyperthermia seems to be rather important for not aggravating cerebral infarction. Clinical randomized studies on the efficacy of mild hypothermia for focal cerebral ischemia and sophisticated mild hypothermia therapy techniques are mandatory.

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