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Xenon gas may prevent brain damage

Wednesday May 22nd, 2019

The anaesthetic drug xenon has been found in laboratory tests to protect brain tissue when given shortly after a traumatic brain injury, British researchers have reported.

Current treatments for traumatic brain injury are focused on management and there are no clinically proven specific neuroprotective drugs available, the researchers say.

As there is a need for neuroprotective treatments that minimise brain damage, a team from Imperial College London, UK, investigated the use of xenon, an anaesthetic gas. It has recently been shown to reduce white matter damage after ischaemic brain injury due to cardiac arrest.

Dr Rita Campos-Pires and colleagues carried out a long term study of the effect of xenon after brain trauma in mice.

They gave 72 young adult male mice brain trauma and either treatment with xenon or an inert gas.

Xenon was seen to significantly reduce secondary injury, improve short-term brain function, and prevent late onset memory deficits. It also reduced white matter loss and reduced neuroinflammation in several brain areas.

In British Journal of Anaesthesia yesterday (21 May), the authors state: “Survival was improved significantly in xenon-treated animals compared with untreated animals up to 12 months after injury.”

Dr Campos-Pires said: “There is currently a huge gap in what treatment we can offer to patients who’ve suffered traumatic brain injury – an injury which can impact all areas of their lives.

“Although xenon has not yet been tested for traumatic brain injury in humans, our findings add to the growing body of evidence that suggests it could be used after head injuries to prevent secondary injury developing.”

She added that one of xenon’s most likely mechanisms is via inhibiting receptors in the brain that become over-activated following a brain injury.

Campos-Pires, R. et al. Xenon improves long-term cognitive function, reduces neuronal loss and chronic neuroinflammation, and improves survival after traumatic brain injury in mice. British Journal of Anaesthesia 21 May 2019; doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2019.02.032

Tags: A&E | Brain & Neurology | UK News

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