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Neurol Res Int. 2012;2012:506320. doi: 10.1155/2012/506320. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Molecular mechanisms of neonatal brain injury.

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1
Centre for the Developing Brain, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.

Abstract

Fetal/neonatal brain injury is an important cause of neurological disability. Hypoxia-ischemia and excitotoxicity are considered important insults, and, in spite of their acute nature, brain injury develops over a protracted time period during the primary, secondary, and tertiary phases. The concept that most of the injury develops with a delay after the insult makes it possible to provide effective neuroprotective treatment after the insult. Indeed, hypothermia applied within 6 hours after birth in neonatal encephalopathy reduces neurological disability in clinical trials. In order to develop the next generation of treatment, we need to know more about the pathophysiological mechanism during the secondary and tertiary phases of injury. We review some of the critical molecular events related to mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis during the secondary phase and report some recent evidence that intervention may be feasible also days-weeks after the insult.

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