Effects of ketamine, dexmedetomidine and propofol anesthesia on emotional memory consolidation in rats: Consequences for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder

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Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or emergency care patients, exposed to traumatic events, are at increased risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) development. Commonly used sedative/anesthetic agents can interfere with the mechanisms of memory formation, exacerbating or attenuating the memory for the traumatic event, and subsequently promote or reduce the risk of PTSD development. Here, we evaluated the effects of ketamine, dexmedetomidine and propofol on fear memory consolidation and subsequent cognitive and emotional alterations related to traumatic stress exposure. Immediately following an inhibitory avoidance training, rats were intraperitoneally injected with ketamine (100–125 mg/kg), dexmedetomidine (0.3-0.4 mg/kg) or their vehicle and tested for 48 h memory retention. Furthermore, the effects of ketamine (125 mg/kg), dexmedetomidine (0.4 mg/kg), propofol (300 mg/kg) or their vehicle on long-term memory and social interaction were evaluated two weeks after drug injection in a rat PTSD model. Ketamine anesthesia increased memory retention without altering the traumatic memory strength in the PTSD model. However, ketamine induced a long-term reduction of social behavior. Conversely, dexmedetomidine markedly impaired memory retention, without affecting long-lasting cognitive or emotional behaviors in the PTSD model. We have previously shown that propofol anesthesia enhanced 48 h memory retention. Here, we found that propofol induced an enduring traumatic memory enhancement and anxiogenic effects in the PTSD model. These findings provide new evidence for clinical studies showing that the use of ketamine or propofol anesthesia in emergency care and ICU might be more likely to promote the development of PTSD, while dexmedetomidine might have prophylactic effects.

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