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Exp Neurol. 2004 Dec;190(2):535-43.

Effects of isoflurane on prefrontal acetylcholine release and hypothalamic Fos response in young adult and aged rats.

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Center for Surgical Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, 141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.


This experiment investigated the influence of age on prefrontal acetylcholine (ACh) release and Fos response in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus and the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) of rats following isoflurane anesthesia. It is known that isoflurane decreases acetylcholine release in most brain regions. In the present study, we found that the level of prefrontal acetylcholine was significantly lower in 28-month-old rats (14% of baseline) than in 3-month-old rats (38% of baseline) during 2 h of isoflurane anesthesia (P < 0.05). The old rat group showed significantly greater Fos induction in the paraventricular nucleus compared to the young adult rat group (P < 0.05), indicating that the old rats were subjected to stress. No difference in Fos response was noted in the nucleus tractus solitarius. The old rats displayed a significant increase in feeding behavior during the 3-h recovery period (P < 0.05), but there was no difference in overall acetylcholine levels. Taken together, these findings suggest that isoflurane anesthesia influences old rats more profoundly than young adult rats with regard to reductions in acetylcholine release and stress responses. This may have implications for understanding the development of postoperative delirium in aged patients.

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