Therapeutic hypothermia is widely used to treat traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). However, determining the best hypothermia therapy strategy remains a challenge. We hypothesized that reducing the metabolic rate, rather than reaching a fixed body temperature, would be an appropriate target because optimizing metabolic conditions especially the brain metabolic environment may enhance neurologic protection. A pilot single-blind randomized controlled trial was designed to test this hypothesis, and a nested metabolomics study was conducted to explore the mechanics thereof.METHODS
Severe TBI patients (Glasgow Coma Scale score, 3–8) were randomly divided into the metabolic-targeted hypothermia treatment (MTHT) group, 50% to 60% rest metabolic ratio as the hypothermia therapy target, and the body temperature-targeted hypothermia treatment (BTHT) control group, hypothermia therapy target of 32°C to 35°C body temperature. Brain and circulatory metabolic pool blood samples were collected at baseline and on days 1, 3, and 7 during the hypothermia treatment, which were selected randomly from a subgroup of MTHT and BTHT groups. The primary outcome was mortality. Using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance technology, we tracked and located the disturbances of metabolic networks.RESULTS
Eighty-eight severe TBI patients were recruited and analyzed from December 2013 to December 2014, 44 each were assigned in the MTHT and BTHT groups (median age, 42 years; 69.32% men; mean Glasgow Coma Scale score, 6.17 ± 1.02). The mortality was significantly lower in the MTHT than the BTHT group (15.91% vs. 34.09%; p = 0.049). From these, eight cases of MTHT and six cases from BTHT group were enrolled for metabolomics analysis, which showed a significant difference between the brain and circulatory metabolic patterns in MTHT group on day 7 based on the model parameters and scores plots. Finally, metabolites representing potential neuroprotective monitoring parameters for hypothermia treatment were identified through 1H nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics.CONCLUSION
MTHT can significantly reduce the mortality of severe TBI patients. Metabolomics research showed that this strategy could effectively improve brain metabolism, suggesting that reducing the metabolic rate to 50% to 60% should be set as the hypothermia therapy target.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Therapeutic study, Level I.