An overview of new and novel pharmacotherapies for use in traumatic brain injury

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2001 Nov;28(11):919-21. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1681.2001.03548.x.


1. Although a number of interventional pharmacotherapies have undergone clinical trial in traumatic brain injury (TBI), none has shown considerable promise. The present short review will examine some of the more novel compounds that have been proposed recently as potential therapeutic agents for use in TBI. 2. Previous experimental studies have demonstrated that brain intracellular free magnesium significantly declines following TBI and that the administration of magnesium salts attenuates the post-traumatic neurological deficits. More recent studies have established that magnesium salts administered after trauma enter the brain intracellular space and reduce the size of the lesion volume. Such protection could be afforded through attenuation of both necrotic and apoptotic cell death. Magnesium salts are currently on clinical trial in TBI. 3. Cyclosporine A is known to inhibit opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Administration of cyclosporine A after TBI has been shown to attenuate axonal injury and decrease the resultant lesion volume. Therefore, inhibitors of mitochondrial transition pore opening and resultant attenuation of apoptosis show some promise as neuroprotective agents. 4. Recent evidence has shown that substance P antagonists may decrease lesion volume and improve neurological outcome after ischaemia. Similar findings have recently been reported in TBI. The fact that substance P antagonists are known to reduce neurogenic inflammation, oedema formation and are clinically being trialed as both antidepressants and antinociceptive agents suggests that these agents warrant further investigation as therapeutic agents following TBI. 5. There are numerous contradictions in the literature regarding the potential neuroprotective effects of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Recent studies suggest that both hormones are protective in TBI and further studies are required to ascertain the mechanisms associated with this protection and any potential for clinical application.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use*
  • Substance P / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Substance P
  • Cyclosporine
  • Magnesium