Background: Germinal matrix intraventricular hemorrhage (GM-IVH) is associated with cerebro-cerebellar damage in very preterm infants, leading to neurodevelopmental impairment. Penetration, from the intraventricular space, of extravasated red blood cells and extracellular hemoglobin (Hb), to the periventricular parenchyma and the cerebellum has been shown to be causal in the development of brain injury following GM-IVH. Furthermore, the damage has been described to be associated with the cytotoxic nature of extracellular Hb-metabolites. To date, there is no therapy available to prevent infants from developing either hydrocephalus or serious neurological disability. Mechanisms previously described to cause brain damage following GM-IVH, i.e., oxidative stress and Hb-metabolite toxicity, suggest that the free radical and heme scavenger α1-microglobulin (A1M) may constitute a potential neuroprotective intervention.
Methods: Using a preterm rabbit pup model of IVH, where IVH was induced shortly after birth in pups delivered by cesarean section at E29 (3 days prior to term), we investigated the brain distribution of recombinant A1M (rA1M) following intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration at 24 h post-IVH induction. Further, short-term functional protection of i.c.v.-administered human A1M (hA1M) following IVH in the preterm rabbit pup model was evaluated.
Results: Following i.c.v. administration, rA1M was distributed in periventricular white matter regions, throughout the fore- and midbrain and extending to the cerebellum. The regional distribution of rA1M was accompanied by a high co-existence of positive staining for extracellular Hb. Administration of i.c.v.-injected hA1M was associated with decreased structural tissue and mitochondrial damage and with reduced mRNA expression for proinflammatory and inflammatory signaling-related genes induced by IVH in periventricular brain tissue.
Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that rA1M/hA1M is a potential candidate for neuroprotective treatment following preterm IVH.
Keywords: Damage to the immature brain; Hemoglobin; Intraventricular hemorrhage; Oxidative stress; α1-microglobulin.