Efficacy of acute administration of inhaled argon on traumatic brain injury in mice

Federico Moro, Francesca Fossi, Aurora Magliocca, Rosaria Pascente, Eliana Sammali, Federico Baldini, Daniele Tolomeo, Edoardo Micotti, Giuseppe Citerio, Nino Stocchetti, Francesca Fumagalli, Sandra Magnoni, Roberto Latini, Giuseppe Ristagno, Elisa R. Zanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Whilst there has been progress in supportive treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI), specific neuroprotective interventions are lacking. Models of ischaemic heart and brain injury show the therapeutic potential of argon gas, but it is still not known whether inhaled argon (iAr) is protective in TBI. We tested the effects of acute administration of iAr on brain oedema, tissue micro-environmental changes, neurological functions, and structural outcome in a mouse model of TBI. Methods: Anaesthetised adult C57BL/6J mice were subjected to severe TBI by controlled cortical impact. Ten minutes after TBI, the mice were randomised to 24 h treatments with iAr 70%/O2 30% or air (iCtr). Sensorimotor deficits were evaluated up to 6 weeks post-TBI by three independent tests. Cognitive function was evaluated by Barnes maze test at 4 weeks. MRI was done to examine brain oedema at 3 days and white matter damage at 5 weeks. Microglia/macrophages activation and functional commitment were evaluated at 1 week after TBI by immunohistochemistry. Results: iAr significantly accelerated sensorimotor recovery and improved cognitive deficits 1 month after TBI, with less white matter damage in the ipsilateral fimbria and body of the corpus callosum. Early changes underpinning protection included a reduction of pericontusional vasogenic oedema and of the inflammatory response. iAr significantly reduced microglial activation with increases in ramified cells and the M2-like marker YM1. Conclusions: iAr accelerates recovery of sensorimotor function and improves cognitive and structural outcome 1 month after severe TBI in adult mice. Early effects include a reduction of brain oedema and neuroinflammation in the contused tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-264
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • argon
  • brain protection
  • neuroinflammation
  • neuroprotection
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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