Evidence shows that artificially lowering body and brain temperature can significantly reduce the deleterious effects of brain injury in both newborns and adults. Although the benefits of therapeutic hypothermia have long been known and applied clinically, the underlying molecular mechanisms have yet to be elucidated. Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury and traumatic brain injury both trigger a series of biochemical and molecular events that cause additional brain insult. Induction of therapeutic hypothermia seems to ameliorate the molecular cascade that culminates in neuronal damage. Hypothermia attenuates the toxicity produced by the initial injury that would normally produce reactive oxygen species, neurotransmitters, inflammatory mediators, and apoptosis. Experiments have been performed on various depths and levels of hypothermia to explore neuroprotection. This review summarizes what is currently known about the beneficial effects of therapeutic hypothermia in experimental models of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury and traumatic brain injury, and explores the molecular mechanisms that could become the targets of novel therapies. In addition, this review summarizes the clinical implications of therapeutic hypothermia in newborn hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and adult traumatic brain injury.
Keywords: Apoptosis, hypothermia, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, neuroprotection, traumatic brain injury, local anesthetic, tumors, neurotoxicity, inferior vena cava catheters, reperfusion phase, acidosis, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, hemorrhage shock