Anesthetics inhibit extracellular signal-regulated Kinase1/2 phosphorylation via NMDA receptor, phospholipase C and protein kinase C in mouse hippocampal slices

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Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) has been implicated in learning and memory; however, whether intravenous anesthetics modulate ERK1/2 remains unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of several intravenous anesthetics on the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in the hippocampus of adult mice.


Western blotting was used to examine cellular levels of phosphorylated and unphosphorylated ERK1/2 in mouse hippocampus slices, which were incubated with or without anesthetics including propofol, etomidate, ketamine and midazolam, a protein kinase C (PKC) activator or inhibitor, or phospholipase C (PLC) activator or inhibitor.


Propofol, etomidate, ketamine and midazolam reduced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in a time-dependent manner. Washing out propofol after 5 min increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation. The anesthetic-induced depression of ERK1/2 phosphorylation was blocked by 0.1 μM phorbol-12-myristate 13-acetate (an activator of PKC), 50 μM U73122 (an inhibitor of PLC). The anesthetic-induced depression of ERK1 phosphorylation was blocked by 1 mMN-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA). Whereas 100 μM chelerythrine (an inhibitor of PKC) and 100 μM carbachol (an activator of PLC) and 20 μM PD-98059 (an inhibitor of MEK) had additive effects on propofol-induced inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation. In contrast, 10 μM MK801 (a NMDA receptor antagonist) did not block anesthetic-induced inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation.


Intravenous anesthetics markedly decreased phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in mouse hippocampal slices, most likely via the NMDA receptor, and PLC- and PKC-dependent pathways. Thus, ERK1/2 represents a target for anesthetics in the brain.

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