Cell therapy for neonatal hypoxia-ischemia and cerebral palsy

Ann Neurol. 2012 May;71(5):589-600. doi: 10.1002/ana.22670.


Perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury remains a major cause of cerebral palsy. Although therapeutic hypothermia is now established to improve recovery from hypoxia-ischemia (HI) at term, many infants continue to survive with disability, and hypothermia has not yet been tested in preterm infants. There is increasing evidence from in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies that stem/progenitor cells may have multiple beneficial effects on outcome after hypoxic-ischemic injury. Stem/progenitor cells have shown great promise in animal studies in decreasing neurological impairment; however, the mechanisms of action of stem cells, and the optimal type, dose, and method of administration remain surprisingly unclear, and some studies have found no benefit. Although cell-based interventions after completion of the majority of secondary cell death appear to have potential to improve functional outcome for neonates after HI, further rigorous testing in translational animal models is required before randomized controlled trials should be considered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / therapy*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*