Role of anesthetics in Alzheimer's disease

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Inhaled anesthetics commonly used in surgery are more likely to cause the aggregation of Alzheimer's disease-related plaques in the brain than intravenous anesthetics say University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers in a journal article published in the Jan. 23 issue of Biochemistry. This is the first report using state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic technique to explain the detailed molecular mechanism behind the aggregation of amyloid β (Aβ) peptide due to various anesthetics.

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Aβ plaques are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Many believe that the uncontrolled clumping of Aβ is the cause of Alzheimer's disease and that the similar aggregation of peptides and proteins play a role in the development of other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

"Many people know of or have heard of an elderly person who went into surgery where they received anesthesia and when they woke up they had noticeable memory loss or cognitive dysfunction," said Pravat K. Mandal, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and lead author of the study. Previous studies by the Pittsburgh researchers found that the inhaled anesthetics halothane and isoflurane and the intravenous anesthetic propofol encouraged the growth and clumping of Aβ in a test tube experiment.

"Our prior research had shown in molecular models that anesthetics may play a role by causing amyloid peptides to clump together

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