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Stimulation of brain region restores consciousness to animals under general anesthesia
Date:7/28/2014

Stimulating one of two dopamine-producing regions in the brain was able to arouse animals receiving general anesthesia with either isoflurane or propofol. In the August issue of Anesthesiology, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that rats anesthetized with continuous doses of either agent would move, raise their heads and even stand up in response to electrical stimulation delivered to the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Stimulation of the other major dopamine-releasing area, the substantia nigra, did not induce the animals to wake up.

"Dopamine cells in the VTA are involved in cognition, motivation and reward, while cells in the substantia nigra are important for movement; and our results showed that VTA cells may also be involved in dopamine's known arousal function." explains Ken Solt, MD, of the MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, corresponding author of the report. "Clinically, emergence from general anesthesia is still a passive process during which we just wait for the drugs to wear off and the patient to wake up, a process that can take from a few minutes to an hour or longer. Finding a way to safely arouse patients from anesthesia could both improve operating room efficiency and, even more importantly, may reduce problems such as postoperative delirium and cognitive dysfunction."

Previous studies by Solt and his colleagues have shown that administration of the stimulant drug methylphenidate (Ritalin), known to enhance dopamine-mediated neurotransmission, aroused animals receiving general anesthesia with either inhaled isoflurane or intravenous propofol. An additional study found that activating dopamine receptors also induced reanimation in anesthetized animals, but since older evidence implied that dopamine had no significant role in maintaining wakefulness, the MGH team designed the current study to investigate more directly the role of the brain's major dopamine-r
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Contact: Terri Ogan
togan@partners.org
617-726-0954
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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