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Common stimulant may speed recovery from general anesthesia
Date:9/21/2011

e and histamine. The current study was designed to see whether methylphenidate could stimulate arousal in rats receiving the anesthetic drug isoflurane. The first experiments showed that animals receiving intravenous methylphenidate five minutes before discontinuation of isoflurane recovered significantly faster than did rats receiving a saline injection. Another experiment showed that methylphenidate induced signs of arousal movement, standing up, etc. in animals continuing to receive isoflurane at a dose that would have been sufficient to maintain unconsciousness. EEG readings taken during that experiment showed that brain rhythms associated with arousal returned within 30 seconds of methylphenidate administration. Giving a drug that interferes with the dopamine pathway blocked the arousal effects of methylphenidate, supporting the role of that pathway in the drug's effects.

"Our results tell us that, even though we don't yet know the precise mechanisms underlying general anesthesia, we can overcome its effects by activating arousal pathways," says Ken Solt, MD, of the MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, the paper's lead and corresponding author. "Instead of the traditional paradigm of reversing drug actions at the molecular level, methylphenidate acts at the level of neural circuits to overcome the effects of isoflurane. Since we still know very little about the pathways involved in general anesthesia, we will be testing the actions of methylphenidate with other anesthetic agents to see if these arousal effects are broadly applicable."

Brown adds, "More precise ways to induce and control the arousal process may lead to strategies that help patients recover from coma. We also found that methylphenidate increased respiration in anesthetized animals, which could help rescue patients who receive too much sedation for simple procedures. And the ability to safely reduce the time patients spend in the operating r
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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