Pure Oxygen Kills Key Brain Cells
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It makes sense to treat oxygen deprivation with … oxygen. However, a recent study shows this kind of treatment may do more harm than good.
Brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, which often happens during birth trauma and near drowning, is one of the most common causes of death and long-term neurological damage among infants and children. The current standard treatment for oxygen deprivation involves administering 100 percent oxygen to prevent further brain damage.
In a study looking at this treatment, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center administered either 100 percent oxygen or room air to mice deprived of oxygen. After 72 hours, mice given 100 percent oxygen suffered far greater rates of brain-cell death and developed motor deficits that mimicked cerebral palsy. The brain cells that suffered the most damage were glia, cells that create myelin. Myelin, commonly known as “white matter,” allows nerve cells to transmit signals quickly and efficiently, contributing to motor coordination.
“Patients with white-matter injuries develop defects that often result in cerebral palsy and motor deficits,” Steven Kernie, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and developmental biology at UT Southwestern and lead researcher, was quoted as saying.
Dr. Kernie said adding pure oxygen to an already damaged brain increases oxidative stress, caused by the formation of highly reactive molecules.
“Further research is needed to determine the best possible concentration of oxygen to use for optimal recovery and to limit secondary brain injury,” Dr. Kernie said. “Research is now being done to determine the best way to monitor this sort of brain damage in humans so we can understand how it correlates to the mouse models.”
SOURCE: Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 2008;28:1294-1306
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