In the era of therapeutic hypothermia, reliable preclinical studies are integral to successfully identify neuroprotective strategies to further improve outcomes of encephalopathy at term. We reviewed preclinical neuroprotection studies reported between January 2014 and June 2016 to assess the use of effective temperature monitoring and control. As a secondary measure, we examined whether studies addressed other methodological issues such as stage of brain development, sex differences, the timing of the treatment relative to the insult, and the histological and functional endpoints used after hypoxia-ischemia. The extent and duration of temperature monitoring was highly inconsistent. Only a minority of papers monitored core (19/61; 31%) or brain temperature (3/61; 5%). Most (40/45) of the neuroprotectants either were likely to affect thermoregulation or their impact is unknown. In 85% of papers neonatal rodents were used (67% at P7); 51% of papers did not report the sex of the animals or tested the effect of potential neuroprotectants on just one sex. In 76% of studies, treatment was before or immediately after the insult (within the first 2 h), and few studies assessed long-term histological and behavioral outcomes. In conclusion, many recent preclinical neonatal studies cannot exclude the possibility that apparent neuroprotection might be related to drug-induced hypothermia or to other methodological choices. Close monitoring and control of brain temperature during, as well as for many days after, experimental hypoxia-ischemia are now critical to reliably develop new ways to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes after perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
- Cerebral palsy
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Perinatal brain injury