(HealthDay News) – Anesthetics isoflurane and desflurane have distinct effects on mitochondrial function and learning and memory, according to an experimental study published online Jan. 19 in the Annals of Neurology.

Yiying Zhang, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown, and colleagues used flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, Western blot analysis, immunocytochemistry, and the fear conditioning test to assess the effects of isoflurane and desflurane on mitochondrial function, cytotoxicity, and learning and memory in mice and mouse cells.

The researchers found that isoflurane, but not desflurane, was associated with induction of the opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pores (mPTP), elevation of reaction oxygen species levels, decreases in levels of adenosine-5′-triphosphate and mitochondrial membrane potential, and caspase-3 activation. In addition, isoflurane, but not desflurane, impaired learning and memory in cultured cells, mouse hippocampus neurons, mouse hippocampus, and mice. Isoflurane-induced mPTP opening, caspase-3 activation, and impairment of learning and memory were reduced by cyclosporine A, a blocker of mPTP opening.

“Ultimately, these studies, through combined efforts of anesthesia and neurology, may develop guidelines in regards to how to provide safer anesthesia care for Alzheimer’s disease patients (e.g., to avoid worsening of Alzheimer’s disease neuropathogenesis and decline of cognitive function by anesthesia and surgery), like the one developed by combined efforts of anesthesia and cardiology regarding safer anesthesia care for coronary artery disease patients,” the authors write.

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