Brain temperature and its fundamental properties: a review for clinical neuroscientists

Front Neurosci. 2014 Oct 8;8:307. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2014.00307. eCollection 2014.


Brain temperature, as an independent therapeutic target variable, has received increasingly intense clinical attention. To date, brain hypothermia represents the most potent neuroprotectant in laboratory studies. Although the impact of brain temperature is prevalent in a number of common human diseases including: head trauma, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, mood disorders, headaches, and neurodegenerative disorders, it is evident and well recognized that the therapeutic application of induced hypothermia is limited to a few highly selected clinical conditions such as cardiac arrest and hypoxic ischemic neonatal encephalopathy. Efforts to understand the fundamental aspects of brain temperature regulation are therefore critical for the development of safe, effective, and pragmatic clinical treatments for patients with brain injuries. Although centrally-mediated mechanisms to maintain a stable body temperature are relatively well established, very little is clinically known about brain temperature's spatial and temporal distribution, its physiological and pathological fluctuations, and the mechanism underlying brain thermal homeostasis. The human brain, a metabolically "expensive" organ with intense heat production, is sensitive to fluctuations in temperature with regards to its functional activity and energy efficiency. In this review, we discuss several critical aspects concerning the fundamental properties of brain temperature from a clinical perspective.

Keywords: brain; cerebral blood flow; hyperthermia; hypothermia; temperature.

Publication types

  • Review