Therapeutic hypothermia and targeted temperature management in traumatic brain injury: Clinical challenges for successful translation

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55 Scopus citations


The use of therapeutic hypothermia (TH) and targeted temperature management (TTM) for severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been tested in a variety of preclinical and clinical situations. Early preclinical studies showed that mild reductions in brain temperature after moderate to severe TBI improved histopathological outcomes and reduced neurological deficits. Investigative studies have also reported that reductions in post-traumatic temperature attenuated multiple secondary injury mechanisms including excitotoxicity, free radical generation, apoptotic cell death, and inflammation. In addition, while elevations in post-traumatic temperature heightened secondary injury mechanisms, the successful implementation of TTM strategies in injured patients to reduce fever burden appear to be beneficial. While TH has been successfully tested in a number of single institutional clinical TBI studies, larger randomized multicenter trials have failed to demonstrate the benefits of therapeutic hypothermia. The use of TH and TTM for treating TBI continues to evolve and a number of factors including patient selection and the timing of the TH appear to be critical in successful trial design. Based on available data, it is apparent that TH and TTM strategies for treating severely injured patients is an important therapeutic consideration that requires more basic and clinical research. Current research involves the evaluation of alternative cooling strategies including pharmacologically-induced hypothermia and the combination of TH or TTM approaches with more selective neuroprotective or reparative treatments. This manuscript summarizes the preclinical and clinical literature emphasizing the importance of brain temperature in modifying secondary injury mechanisms and in improving traumatic outcomes in severely injured patients. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI:Brain injury and recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-103
Number of pages10
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - 2016


  • Clinical
  • Experimental
  • Hypothermia
  • Secondary injury mechanisms
  • Temperature management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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