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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Neuroprotective and neurotoxic properties of the 'inert' gas, xenon.

BACKGROUND: Antagonists of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of glutamate receptors have been shown not only to have neuroprotective effects but also to exhibit neurotoxic properties. In this study, we used c-Fos, a protein product of an immediate early gene, as a marker of neuronal injury to compare the neuroprotective effects of xenon and the neurotoxic properties of xenon, nitrous oxide, and ketamine, three anaesthetics with NMDA receptor antagonist properties. METHODS: We used an in vivo rat model of brain injury in which N-methyl-DL-aspartic acid (NMA) is injected subcutaneously (s.c.) and c-Fos expression in the arcuate nucleus is used as a measure of injury. To examine the neurotoxic potential of each of the three anaesthetics with NMDA receptor antagonist properties, c-Fos expression in the posterior cingulate and retrosplenial (PC/RS) cortices was measured. RESULTS: Xenon dose-dependently suppressed NMA-induced c-Fos expression in the arcuate nucleus with an IC(50) of 47 (2)% atm. At the highest concentration tested (75% atm) NMA-induced neuronal injury was decreased by as much as that observed with the prototypical NMDA antagonist MK801 (0.5 mg kg(-1) s.c.). Both nitrous oxide and ketamine dose-dependently increased c-Fos expression in PC/RS cortices; in contrast, xenon produced no significant effect. If the dopamine receptor antagonist haloperidol was given before either nitrous oxide or ketamine, their neurotoxic effects were eliminated. CONCLUSIONS: Uniquely amongst anaesthetics with known NMDA receptor antagonist action, xenon exhibits neuroprotective properties without co-existing neurotoxicity. The reason why ketamine and nitrous oxide, but not xenon, produce neurotoxicity may involve their actions on dopaminergic pathways.[1]


  1. Neuroprotective and neurotoxic properties of the 'inert' gas, xenon. Ma, D., Wilhelm, S., Maze, M., Franks, N.P. British journal of anaesthesia. (2002) [Pubmed]
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