Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious condition that affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States each year. Currently, there are no approved therapies to treat the devastating consequences of severe TBI. Therapeutic hypothermia has a history of showing efficacy both in animal models and clinical studies. Potential mechanisms by which hypothermia may improve traumatic outcome include targeting vascular alterations such as by reducing the incidence of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability. In addition, therapeutic hypothermia promotes normal vascular reactivity and reduces a variety of inflammatory processes that are activated by trauma-induced cerebrovascular damage. Ongoing research in the laboratory and clinic is demonstrating that therapeutic hypothermia may indeed protect specific populations of severe TBI patients by targeting vascular perturbations including altered BBB function.
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