Novel interventions to reduce oxidative-stress related brain injury in neonatal asphyxia.


A.L. Solevåga, G.M. Schmölzer, P.-Y.Cheung

Published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine

October 2019



Perinatal asphyxia-induced brain injury may present as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in the neonatal period, and disability including cerebral palsy in the long term. The brain injury is secondary to both the hypoxic-ischemic event and the reoxygenation-reperfusion following resuscitation. Early events in the cascade of brain injury can be classified as either inflammation or oxidative stress through the generation of free radicals. The objective of this paper is to present efforts that have been made to limit the oxidative stress associated with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. In the acute phase of ischemia/hypoxia and reperfusion/reoxygenation, the outcomes of asphyxiated infants can be improved by optimizing the initial delivery room stabilization. Interventions include limiting oxygen exposure, and shortening the time to return of spontaneous circulation through improved methods for supporting hemodynamics and ventilation. Allopurinol, melatonin, noble gases such as xenon and argon, and magnesium administration also target the acute injury phase. Therapeutic hypothermia, N-acetylcysteine2-iminobiotin, remote ischemic postconditioning, cannabinoids and doxycycline target the subacute phase. Erythropoietin, mesenchymal stem cells, topiramate and memantine could potentially limit injury in the repair phase after asphyxia. To limit the injurious biochemical processes during the different stages of brain injury, determination of the stage of injury in any particular infant remains essential. Currently, therapeutic hypothermia is the only established treatment in the subacute phase of asphyxia-induced brain injury. The effects and side effects of oxidative stress reducing/limiting medications may however be difficult to predict in infants during therapeutic hypothermia. Future neuroprotection in asphyxiated infants may indeed include a combination of therapies. Challenges include timing, dosing and administration route for each neuroprotectant.





Solevåg AL, Schmölzer GM, Cheung PY. Novel interventions to reduce oxidative-stress related brain injury in neonatal asphyxia. Free Radic Biol Med. 2019;142:113-122. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.04.028