The effect of mild hyperthermia and hypothermia on brain damage following 5, 10, and 15 minutes of forebrain ischemia



The present study examines the effects of mild hypothermia and hyperthermia on the density and distribution of ischemic brain damage, and compares these effects to those induced by variations in the duration of ischemia. Body temperatures were maintained at 35°C, 37°C, and 39°C before, during, and after ischemia, and brain temperatures were held at similar values with a technique that in preliminary experiments proved to avoid intracerebral temperature gradients or overheating of surface structures. In all animals, brain damage was assessed by histopathological analysis of perfusion-fixed brains after six to seven days of recovery. Our results confirm previous findings showing that a decrease in temperature of only 2°C significantly reduces damage to several selectively vulnerable neuronal populations. The results also showed that an increase in temperature of 2°C significantly enhances brain damage. In general, a rise in temperature had effects similar to an increased duration of the ischemia. In some areas, such as the CA1-subiculum sectors of the hippocampus, temperature and ischemic duration altered damage in a gradual manner, but in others, such as the caudoputamen, there was a steplike change from virtually no to virtually complete damage. In some areas, the effects of hypothermia and hyperthermia appeared symmetrical around the normal temperature of 37°C. Hyperthermia had some seemingly “specific” effects, however, notably the tendency to induce pannecrosis (“infarction”) in the neocortex and caudoputamen, and to cause damage to the substantia nigra pars reticulata. The results underscore the potentially devastating effects of fever in patients with cerebrovascular disease.