You are viewing a javascript disabled version of the site. Please enable Javascript for this site to function properly.
Go to headerGo to navigationGo to searchGo to contentsGo to footer
In content section. Select this link to jump to navigation

Dexmedetomidine Directly Increases Tau Phosphorylation


Exposure to anesthetic agents has been linked to abnormal tau protein phosphorylation, an antecedent to the development of neurofibrillary tangles. This study evaluates the direct and indirect effects of dexmedetomidine. Primary culture of cortical neurons established from Sprague-Dawley (SD) rat embryos were exposed to dexmedetomidine for 1 or 6 hours, and the degree of tau phosphorylation at the AT8, AT180, and S396 sites was assessed by western blot analysis. To assess and compare their relative in vivo effects, the same agent was administered intravenously to 8 to 10 week old male SD rats and titrated to the loss of the righting reflex for 2 hours. After 1 hour of recovery, the rats were sacrificed and samples taken from the cortex and hippocampus were subjected to western blot and immunohistochemical analysis. The in vitro studies reviewed significant hyperphosphorylation only at the S396 site, and these changes have largely disappeared at 6 hours. With temperature maintenance, dexmedetomidine induced significant changes in hyperphosphorylation at the AT8 site in the cortex and hippocampus and at the AT180 in the hippocampus. The direct effect of anesthetic agents on fully differentiated cortical neurons is epitope-specific and short-lived. The in vivo effects are comparatively more complicated and depend not only on the phosphorylation site but the regions of the brain examined. These findings suggest that dexmedetomidine increases tau phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo under normothermic conditions, and further studies are warranted to determine the long-term impact of this anesthetic on the tau pathology and even cognitive function.