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Arch Med Sci. 2015 Dec 10;11(6):1296-302. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2015.56355. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

The role of TNF-α in regulating ketamine-induced hippocampal neurotoxicity.

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Department of Anesthesia, Zhejiang Hospital, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.



Ketamine is commonly used in pediatric anesthesia but recent studies have shown that it could induce neurotoxicity in the developing brain. The inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) is involved in the pathogenesis of various types of neurodegenerations. In the present study, we examined whether TNF-α may regulate ketamine-induced neurotoxicity in the hippocampus of neonatal mouse.


The in vitro organotypic culture of hippocampal slices was used to investigate the gain-of-function and loss-of-function effect of TNF-α modulation on ketamine-induced hippocampal neurotoxicity. Also, western blotting analysis was used to examine the relative pathways associated with TNF-α modulation. In the in vivo Morris water maze test, TNF-α was genetically silenced to see if memory function was improved after anesthesia-induced memory impairment.


In in vitro experiments, adding TNF-α enhanced (112.99 ±5.4%, p = 0.015), whereas knocking down TNF-α ameliorated (46.8 ±11.6%, p = 0.003) ketamine-induced apoptosis in hippocampal CA1 neurons in the organotypic culture. Western blotting showed that addition of TNF-α reduced (67.1 ±3.7%, p = 0.022), whereas downregulation of TNF-α increased (126.87 ±8.5%, p = 0.004) the phosphorylation of PKC-ERK pathway in ketamine-treated hippocampus. In in vivo experiments, genetically silencing TNF-α markedly improved the ketamine-induced memory impairment through Morris water maze test.


Our results clearly demonstrated a protective mechanism of down-regulating TNF in ketamine-induced hippocampal neurotoxicity. This study may present a new target for pharmacological intervention to prevent anesthesia-related neurodegeneration in brain.


anesthesia; hippocampus; ketamine; neurotoxicity; tumor necrosis factor-α

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