About this Research Topic
Anesthesia is a routine procedure that avoids pain and/or distress in animals treated, in clinical, and research settings. The procedure consists of a reversible intoxication of the brain, although often anesthesia is accompanied by several side-effects (cognitive dysfunction, morbidity, anxiety levels alteration) bringing into question its true “reversible” nature. In addition to the impact on biochemical and transcriptional parameters, anesthetics may alter memory processes, which varies according to the developmental/ life stage of the anesthetized subjects (eg. embryonic, juvenile, adult, aged). The existence or extension of memory alterations depends on a number of variables, including the anesthetic type and its concentration, the duration of anesthesia, the recovery time between anesthesia and behavioral testing, the type of memory investigated, the genetic profile of the animal, and finally age and health status. These cognitive impairments have been described with a focus on humans and rodents. Results highlight the serious implications of anesthetic use, in both clinical settings, compromising patients’ health, and in experimental setups, potentially biasing research outcomes.
It is necessary to identify the best anesthetic procedures to avoid memory deficits, provide a clear insights of the memory-alterations underlying mechanisms and, where applicable, provide alternative solutions granting a lower impact on memory performances. Evidence from behavioral experiments and evaluation of task performance should be accompanied by thorough neurotransmitter dosage investigation, brain activity recordings, imaging experimental sessions and brain microdialysis prior, during and following anesthesia. This complex issue may also be studied in non-mammal animal models, such as zebrafish or xenopus, where the mechanisms of action of anesthetics are conserved, and with which, from a technical point of view, it is relatively simple to generate and screen transgenic models and use morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (MOs) technology for gene knockdown.
This Research Topic aims to shed light on potential cognitive impairments caused by the use of anesthetics in animal models, in both clinical and pre-clinical research settings. It will highlight the different variables contributing to memory alteration, and the potential impact on neural mechanisms. Finally, we would like to encourage the development of novel anesthetic methods seeking to avoid memory alterations in non-human animals and humans.
We welcome articles addressing, but not limited to, the following:
• The impact of post-anesthesia cognitive dysfunctions on research outcomes and on health.
• The type of memory affected by different anesthetic protocols in non-human animal models (mammals, fish, reptiles, etc) and in humans.
• The impact of subject health status on anesthesia-induced memory alterations, for example neurodegenerative diseases.
• The neural substrates (brain circuits and molecular mechanisms) involved in cognition or memory that are altered/ affected by anesthesia.
Topic Editor Dr. Stefano Gaburro is working as “Scientific Director” for the company Tecniplast S.p.A. The other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic.
Keywords: Memory, anesthesia, cognitive dysfunction, neurotransmitters
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