Newer pharmacological approaches for antioxidant neuroprotection in traumatic brain injury

Edward D. Hall, Juan A. Wang, Darren M. Miller, John E. Cebak, Rachel L. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species-induced oxidative damage remains an extensively validated secondary injury mechanism in traumatic brain injury (TBI) as demonstrated by the efficacy of various pharmacological antioxidants agents in decreasing post-traumatic free radical-induced lipid peroxidation (LP) and protein oxidative damage in preclinical TBI models. Based upon strong preclinical efficacy results, two antioxidant agents, the superoxide radical scavenger polyethylene glycol-conjugated superoxide dismutase (PEG-SOD) and the 21-aminosteroid LP inhibitor tirilazad, which inhibits lipid peroxidation, (LP) were evaluated in large phase III trials in moderately- and severely-injured TBI patients. Both failed to improve 6 month survival and neurological recovery. However, in the case of tirilazad, a post hoc analysis revealed that the drug significantly improved survival of male TBI patients who exhibited traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH) that occurs in half of severe TBIs. In addition to reviewing the clinical trial results with PEG-SOD and tirilazad, newer antioxidant approaches which appear to improve neuroprotective efficacy and provide a longer therapeutic window in rodent TBI models will be presented. The first approach involves pharmacological enhancement of the multi-mechanistic Nrf2-antioxidant response element (ARE) pathway. The second involves scavenging of the neurotoxic LP-derived carbonyl compounds 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and acrolein which are highly damaging to neural protein and stimulate additional free radical generation. A third approach combines mechanistically complimentary antioxidants to interrupt post-TBI oxidative neurodegeneration at multiple points in the secondary injury cascade. These newer strategies appear to decrease variability in the neuroprotective effect which should improve the feasibility of achieving successful translation of antioxidant therapy to TBI patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-258
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Antioxidant
  • Carbonyl scavenger
  • Carnosic acid
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Nrf2
  • Tirilazad
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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