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. 2017;23(38):5935-5942.
doi: 10.2174/1381612823666170918123307.

Allopurinol: Old Drug, New Indication in Neonates?


Allopurinol: Old Drug, New Indication in Neonates?

Kim V Annink et al. Curr Pharm Des. .


Background: Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is an important cause of neonatal mortality and neurological morbidity, even despite hypothermia treatment. Neuronal damage in these infants is partly caused by the production of superoxides via the xanthine-oxidase pathway and concomitant free radical formation. Allopurinol is a xanthine-oxidase inhibitor and can potentially reduce the formation of these superoxides that lead to brain damage in HIE.

Methods: The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the animal and clinical data about the neuroprotective effect of allopurinol in HIE and the relevant mechanisms leading to brain injury in HIE.

Results: A possible neuroprotective effect of allopurinol has been suggested based on several preclinical studies in rats, piglets and sheep. Allopurinol seemed to inhibit the formation of superoxide and to scavenge free radicals directly, but the effect on brain damage was inconclusive in these preclinical trials. The neuroprotective effect was also investigated in neonates with HIE. In three small studies, in which, allopurinol was administered postnatally and a pilot and one multi-center study, in which, allopurinol was administered antenatally, a possible beneficial effect was found. After combining the data of 2 postnatal allopurinol studies, long-term follow-up was only beneficial in infants with moderate HIE, therefore, large-scale studies are needed. Additionally, safety, pharmacokinetics and the neuroprotective effect of allopurinol in other neonatal populations are discussed in this review.

Conclusion: The available literature is not conclusive whether allopurinol is a neuroprotective add-on therapy in infants with HIE. More research is needed to establish the neuroprotective effect of allopurinol especially in combination with hypothermia.

Keywords: Allopurinol; add-on therapy; hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy; neuroprotection; perinatal asphyxia; reperfusion injury; xanthineoxidase inhibitor..

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