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Stroke. 2008 Apr;39(4):1307-13. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.107.499822. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

Xenon and hypothermia combine additively, offering long-term functional and histopathologic neuroprotection after neonatal hypoxia/ischemia.

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Department of Clinical Sciences at South Bristol, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.



Hypoxic/ischemic (HI) brain injury affects 1 to 6 per 1000 live human births, with a mortality of 15% to 20%. A quarter of survivors have permanent disabilities. Hypothermia is the only intervention that improves outcome; however, further improvements might be obtained by combining hypothermia with additional treatments. Xenon is a noble anesthetic gas with an excellent safety profile, showing great promise in vitro and in vivo as a neuroprotectant. We investigated combinations of 50% xenon (Xe(50%)) and hypothermia of 32 degrees C (HT(32 degrees C)) as a post-HI therapy.


An established neonatal rat HI model was used. Serial functional neurologic testing into adulthood 10 weeks after injury was performed, followed by global and regional brain histopathology evaluation.


In the combination Xe(50%)HT(32 degrees C) group, complete restoration of long-term functional outcomes was seen. Hypothermia produced improvement on short- (P<0.001) and long- (P<0.001) term functional testing, whereas Xe(50%) alone predominantly improved long-term function (P<0.05), suggesting that short-term testing does not always predict eventual outcome. Similarly, the Xe(50%)HT(32 degrees C) combination produced the greatest (71%) improvement in global histopathology scores, a pattern mirrored in the regional scores, whereas Xe(50%) and HT(32 degrees C) individually produced smaller improvements (P<0.05 and P<0.001, respectively). The interaction between the 2 treatments was additive.


The xenon/hypothermia combination additively confers greater protection after HI than either treatment alone. The functional improvement is almost complete, is sustained long term, and is accompanied by greatly improved histopathology. The unique safety profile differentiates xenon as an attractive combination therapy with hypothermia to improve the otherwise bleak outcome from neonatal HI.

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