New Drug Class May Prevent Learning Deficits In Infants Exposed To Repeated Anesthesia Interview with:

Guang Yang, Ph.D. Assistant Professor NYU Langone School of Medicine Alexandria Center for Life Sciences New York, NY 10016

Dr. Guang Yang

Guang Yang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
NYU Langone School of Medicine
Alexandria Center for Life Sciences
New York, NY 10016 What is the background for this study? How common is the problem of long-lasting behavioral deficits after repeated anesthesia exposure in neonates?

Response: Each year, in the United States alone, more than 1 million children under 4 years of age undergo surgical procedures that require anesthesia. Many lines of evidence from animal studies have shown that prolonged or repeated exposure to general anesthesia during critical stages of brain development leads to long-lasting behavioral deficits later in life. The results from human studies are less clear, although some studies suggest a higher incidence of learning disabilities and attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders in children repeatedly exposed to procedures requiring general anesthesia. To date, there has been no effective treatment to mitigate the potential neurotoxic effects of general anesthesia. How might the AMPAkine drug CX546 mitigate the effects of anesthesia in infants? What are the main findings of your mouse study?

Response: Ampakines are a class of compounds that can potentiate synaptic transmission. The main finding of this mouse study is that administration of AMPAkine CX546 during the recovery period of general anesthesia enhances neuronal activity and prevents long-term motor learning deficits induced by repeated neonatal anesthesia. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Administration of an AMPAkine drug to enhance brain activity during post-anesthesia recovery period prevents long-term deficits induced by repeated neonatal anesthesia in mice. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study was performed entirely in mice. Future research is needed to evaluate whether ampakines or similar drugs may have neuroprotective effects for human patients repeatedly exposed to general anesthesia. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response:Older adults are at a higher risk of developing postoperative cognitive dysfunction after anesthesia and surgery. It would be interesting to test whether ampakines are also beneficial for this population of patients. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Lianyan Huang, Joseph Cichon, Ipe Ninan and Guang Yang.Post-anesthesia AMPA receptor potentiation prevents anesthesia-induced learning and synaptic deficits.Science Translational Medicine, June 2016 DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf7151

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Last Updated on June 23, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD