Hypoxic-ischemia (HI) causes severe brain injury in neonates. It’s one of the leading causes to neonatal death and pediatric disability, resulting in devastating consequences, emotionally and economically, to their families. A series of events happens in this process, e.g. excitatory transmitter release, extracelluar Ca2+ influxing, mitochondrial dysfunction, energy failure, and neuron death. There are two forms of neuron death after HI insult: necrosis and apoptosis, apoptosis being the more prevalent form. Mitochondria handle a series of oxidative reactions, and yield energy for various cellular activities including the maintainance of membrane potential and preservation of intracellular ionic homeostasis. Therefore mitochondria play a critical role in neonatal neurodegeneration following HI, and mitochondrial dysfunction is the key point in neurodegenerative evolution. Because of this, exploring effective mitochondria-based clinical strategies is crucial. Today the only efficacious clinic treatment is hypothermia. However, due to its complex management, clinical complication and autoimmune decrease, its clinical application is limited. So far, many mitochondria-based strategies have been reported neuroprotective in animal models, which offers promise on neonatal therapy. However, since their clinical effectiveness are still unclear, plenty of studies need to be continued in the future. According to recent reports, two novel strategies have been proposed: methylene blue (MB) and melatonin. Although they are still in primary stage, the underlying mechanisms indicate promising clinical applications. Every neurological therapeutic strategy has its intrinsic deficit and limited efficacy, therefore in the long run, the perfect clinical therapy for hypoxic-ischemic neonatal brain injury will be based on the combination of multiple strategies.
Keywords: Hypoxic-ischemia, Mitochondria, Apoptosis, Neuroprotection