Common Inhaled Anesthetics Accelerate the Appearance of Brain Plaque

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that common inhaled anesthetics increase the number of amyloid plaques in the brains of animals, which might accelerate the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Roderic Eckenhoff, MD, Vice Chair of Research in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, and his co-authors, report their findings in the March 7th online edition of Neurobiology of Aging.

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Every year over 100 million people undergo surgery worldwide, most under general anesthesia with an inhaled drug. These drugs clearly affect cognitive ability at least in the short term, but the growing concern is that inhaled anesthetics may affect a person well beyond the perioperative period, even permanently. Several factors appear to play a role in this subtle loss of cognitive ability, most notably age.

A specific effect of these drugs on dementias like Alzheimer's disease, though suspected for many years, has only been recently supported by data. In 2003, Eckenhoff

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