Additional treatments for therapeutic hypothermia are required to maximize neuroprotection for perinatal asphyxial encephalopathy. We assessed neuroprotective effects of combining inhaled xenon with therapeutic hypothermia after transient cerebral hypoxia–ischemia in a piglet model of perinatal asphyxia using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) biomarkers supported by immunohistochemistry.


Thirty-six newborn piglets were randomized (all groups n = 9), with intervention from 2 to 26 hours, to: (1) normothermia; (2) normothermia + 24 hours 50% inhaled xenon; (3) 24 hours hypothermia (33.5°C); or (4) 24 hours hypothermia (33.5°C) + 24 hours 50% inhaled xenon. Serial MRS was acquired before, during, and up to 48 hours after hypoxia–ischemia.


Mean arterial blood pressure was lower in all treatment groups compared with normothermia (p < 0.01) (although >40mmHg); the combined therapy group required more fluid boluses (p < 0.05) and inotropes (p < 0.001). Compared with no intervention, both hypothermia and xenon-augmented hypothermia reduced the temporal regression slope magnitudes for phosphorus-MRS inorganic phosphate/exchangeable phosphate pool (EPP) and phosphocreatine/EPP (both p < 0.05); for lactate/N-acetylaspartate (NAA), only xenon-augmented hypothermia reduced the slope (p < 0.01). Xenon-augmented hypothermia also reduced transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL)+ nuclei and caspase 3 immunoreactive cells in parasagittal cortex and putamen and increased microglial ramification in midtemporal cortex compared with the no treatment group (p < 0.05). Compared with hypothermia, however, combination treatment did not reach statistical significance for any measure. Lactate/NAA showed a strong positive correlation with TUNEL; nucleotide triphosphate/EPP showed a strong negative correlation with microglial ramification (both p < 0.01).


Compared with no treatment, xenon-augmented hypothermia reduced cerebral MRS abnormalities and cell death markers in some brain regions. Compared with hypothermia, xenon-augmented hypothermia did not reach statistical significance for any measure. The safety and possible improved efficacy support phase II trials. Ann Neurol 2011;