Can xenon gas prevent death following traumatic brain injury? Researchers have undertaken the first ever life-long study in mice.
Imperial College London and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz researchers have found that the treatment of traumatic brain injury with xenon gas in mice can prevent early death.
Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in people aged under forty five in developed countries.
The primary injury is caused by initial force resulting from an event such as a car accident or fall. This is followed by a secondary injury which develops in the minutes, hours and days afterwards.
The researchers found that using the anaesthetic drug xenon gas shortly after a traumatic brain injury prevented early death and long-term cognitive impairment and protected brain tissue in mice.
The mice which were treated with xenon gas also had a similar life expectancy, cognitive function and brain tissue integrity as mice which had not sustained a traumatic brain injury.
The study results
According to Imperial College London, they found that:
• The TBI xenon group had the same life expectancy as the healthy control group which had not suffered a TBI;
• The TBI control group developed late-onset cognitive damage. Xenon treatment shortly after TBI appeared to prevent this;
• Key brain areas involved in cognitive functioning were damaged in control TBI group. Xenon-treatment prevented or significantly reduced this damage; and
• Xenon prevented the loss of brain cells in the hippocampus (an area of the brain associated with learning and memory), and prevented degeneration of nerve fibres in the corpus callosum (which connects the two brain hemispheres) that may explain the improvement in cognitive function (see images in Notes to Eds.) Xenon was also shown to reduce long-term brain inflammation that is believed to be involved in cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.