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Med Gas Res. 2019 Apr-Jun;9(2):80-87. doi: 10.4103/2045-9912.260649.

Recent advances in the neuroprotective effects of medical gases.

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Department of Anesthesiology, The 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China.


Central nervous system injuries are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Although the exact pathophysiological mechanisms of various brain injuries vary, central nervous system injuries often result in an inflammatory response, and subsequently lead to brain damage. This suggests that neuroprotection may be necessany in the treatment of multiple disease models. The use of medical gases as neuroprotective agents has gained great attention in the medical field. Medical gases include common gases, such as oxygen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide; hydrogen sulphide and nitric oxide that have been considered toxic; volatile anesthetic gases, such as isoflurane and sevoflurane; and inert gases like helium, argon, and xenon. The neuroprotection from these medical gases has been investigated in experimental animal models of various types of brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral ischemic/reperfusion injury, and neurodegenerative diseases. Nevertheless, the transition into the clinical practice is still lagging. This delay could be attributed to the contradictory paradigms and the conflicting results that have been obtained from experimental models, as well as the presence of inconsistent reports regarding their safety. In this review, we summarize the potential mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of medical gases and discuss possible candidates that could improve the outcomes of brain injury.


hydrogen; hydrogen sulphide; hyperbaric oxygen; inert gases; ischemia/reperfusion; isoflurane; nitric oxide; sevoflurane; subarachnoid hemorrhage; traumatic brain injury

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