Targeting gaseous molecules to protect against cerebral ischaemic injury: mechanisms and prospects

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2012 Jun;39(6):566-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05654.x.


1. Ischaemic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in many countries. However, the pathological mechanisms underlying ischaemic brain injury, including oxidative stress, calcium overload, excitotoxicity and neuronal apoptosis, are perplexing and this makes it difficult to find effective novel drugs for the treatment of the condition. 2. Recently, gaseous molecules such as nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulphide (H(2)S) and hydrogen (H(2)) have attracted considerable interest because of their physiological and pathophysiological roles in various body systems. Emerging evidence indicates that gaseous molecules are involved in the pathological processes of ischaemic brain damage. 3. In the present review, we summarize evidence regarding the involvement of gaseous molecules in ischaemic brain injury and discuss the therapeutic potential of targeting gaseous molecules. 4. Collectively, the available data suggest that the application of these biological gas molecules and their pharmacological regulators may be a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of ischaemic brain injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism*
  • Brain Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Carbon Monoxide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Cytoprotection / drug effects
  • Cytoprotection / physiology
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Gases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Gases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Nitric Oxide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism


  • Gases
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Hydrogen
  • Hydrogen Sulfide