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Hypothalamic orexinergic neurons play a critical role in the promotion and maintenance of wakefulness in mammals. Previous studies have demonstrated that activities of orexinergic neurons were inhibited by isoflurane and sevoflurane, and microinjection of orexin facilitated the emergence from volatile anesthesia. In this study we first examined the hypothesis that the activity of orexin neurons is inhibited by propofol anesthesia. Moreover, the role of the orexinergic signals in basal forebrain in regulating the anesthesia-arousal cycle of propofol anesthesia is also elucidated. Rats were killed at 0, 30, 60, and 120 minutes of propofol infusion as well as at the time the righting reflex returned after the termination of anesthesia. Activated orexinergic neurons were detected by c-Fos expression. The plasma concentrations of orexin-A were measured by radioimmunoassay. Orexin-A (30 or 100 pmol) or the orexin-1 receptor antagonist, SB-334867A (5 or 20 μg), was microinjected into the basal forebrain 15 minutes before propofol infusion, or 15 minutes before the termination of propofol infusion. The loss and the return of the righting reflex time were recorded as the induction and the emergence time. Propofol anesthesia resulted in an inhibition of orexinergic neuron activity as demonstrated by the reduced numbers of c-Fos-immunoreactive orexinergic neurons. The activities of orexinergic neurons were restored when rats emerged from anesthesia. Propofol anesthesia decreased plasma orexin-A concentrations. Intrabasalis microinjection of orexin-A had no effect on the induction time but facilitated the emergence from propofol anesthesia. Inversely, intrabasalis microinjection of the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB-334867A delayed the emergence from propofol anesthesia. Our findings indicate that activity of orexinergic neurons is inhibited by propofol anesthesia, and the orexin signals in basal forebrain are involved in anesthesia-arousal regulation from propofol anesthesia.


Li-Na Zhang, Zhao-Ju Li, Li Tong, Chao Guo, Ji-Yuan Niu, Wu-Gang Hou, Hai-Long Dong. Orexin-A facilitates emergence from propofol anesthesia in the rat. Anesthesia and analgesia. 2012 Oct;115(4):789-96

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PMID: 22798527

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