This study was designed to evaluate the in vitro effects of propofol on lipid peroxide formation and the glutathione antioxidant system in some tissues of Wistar rats (n = 8-10 per experiment). We measured thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), and the activities of glutathione peroxidase (GSHpx), reductase (GSSGrd), and transferase (GSHtf). Propofol inhibited TBARS formation in a concentration-dependent manner. Etomidate and thiopental sodium 10-6 to 10-3 M had no effect. The effect of propofol was apparent immediately and was observed for up to 15-20 min after the start of TBARS formation. Propofol inhibited GSHpx activity by a maximum of 75.1% +/- 8.4%, increased GSSGrd activity by a maximum of 188% +/- 12.6%, and increased GSHtf activity by a maximum of 230% +/- 20%. The solvent intralipid had no significant effect on any of the enzyme activities or on lipid peroxidation. We conclude that propofol not only inhibits lipid peroxidation, but also enhances the cellular antioxidant defense system. Propofol is thus able to prepare tissues against oxidative attack by boosting stores of reduced glutathione. Implications: This study demonstrates that the anesthetic propofol increases one of the most important mechanisms against cellular damage, the glutathione system. The study was performed in several tissues of healthy rats. This could be applied as a possible protection in surgical patients suffering from an ischemic process (cerebrovascular disease, coronary ischemia, etc.).
(Anesth Analg 1998;87:1141-6)