BACKGROUND: We previously reported that combining immediate hypothermia with immediate or 2 h delayed inhalation of an inert gas, xenon, gave additive neuroprotection in rats after a hypoxic-ischemic insult, compared to hypothermia alone. Defining the therapeutic time window for this new combined intervention is crucial in clinical practice when immediate treatment is not always feasible. The aim of this study is to investigate whether combined hypothermia and xenon still provide neuroprotection in rats after a 5 h delay for both hypothermia and xenon.
METHODS: Seven-day-old Wistar rat pups underwent a unilateral hypoxic-ischemic insult. Pups received 5 h of treatment starting 5 h after the insult randomized between normothermia, hypothermia, or hypothermia with 50% xenon. Surviving pups were tested for fine motor function through weeks 8-10 before being euthanized at week 11. Their hemispheric and hippocampal areas were assessed.
RESULTS: Both delayed hypothermia-xenon and hypothermia-only treated groups had significantly less brain tissue loss than those which underwent normothermia. The functional performance after 1 wk and adulthood was significantly better after hypothermia-xenon treatment as compared to the hypothermia-only or normothermia groups.
CONCLUSION: Adding 50% xenon to 5 h delayed hypothermia significantly improved functional outcome as compared to delayed hypothermia alone despite similar reductions in brain area.