By: 9 March 2015
Improving memory deficits following anaesthesia

General anaesthesia results in expended cognitive decline and memory deficits for many individuals following surgical procedure.

Memory deficits can last for months and affect patient outcome and quality of life. Patient age, duration of surgery, and surgical trauma are all risk factors for postoperative cognitive impairment. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation demonstrates that general anaesthesia results in sustained activation of receptors that inhibit brain function and cause memory deficits. Beverly Orser and colleagues at the University of Toronto found that a single dose of anaesthetic induced memory deficits in mice for up to three days. Mice had reduced synaptic plasticity due to increased activation of gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors (GABAARs). Importantly, inhibition of GABAARs reversed memory defects in animals given anaesthesia. The results from this study suggest that GABAAR inhibition should be further explored for treating anaesthesia-induced memory defects.

Sustained increase in a5GABA(A) receptor function impairs memory after anesthesia.