In term and near-term neonates with neonatal encephalopathy, therapeutic hypothermia protocols are well established. The current focus is on how to improve outcomes further and the challenge is to find safe and complementary therapies that confer additional protection, regeneration or repair in addition to cooling. Following hypoxia-ischemia, brain injury evolves over three main phases (latent, secondary and tertiary), each with a different brain energy, perfusion, neurochemical and inflammatory milieu. While therapeutic hypothermia has targeted the latent and secondary phase, we now need therapies that cover the continuum of brain injury that spans hours, days, weeks and months after the initial event. Most agents have several therapeutic actions but can be broadly classified under a predominant action (e.g., free radical scavenging, anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory, neuroregeneration, and vascular effects). Promising early/secondary phase therapies include Allopurinol, Azithromycin, Exendin-4, Magnesium, Melatonin, Noble gases and Sildenafil. Tertiary phase agents include Erythropoietin, Stem cells and others. We review a selection of promising therapeutic agents on the translational pipeline and suggest a framework for neuroprotection and neurorestoration that targets the evolving injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101256
JournalSeminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number5
Early online date22 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2021


  • Neonatal encephalopathy
  • Neuroprotection
  • Neurorestoration
  • Therapeutic hypothermia


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