Background: Microglial activation is implicated in delayed tissue damage after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Activation of microglia causes up-regulation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase, with the release of reactive oxygen species and cytotoxicity. Propofol appears to have antiinflammatory actions. The authors evaluated the neuroprotective effects of propofol after TBI and examined in vivo and in vitro whether such actions reflected modulation of NADPH oxidase.
Methods: Adult male rats were subjected to moderate lateral fluid percussion TBI. Effect of propofol on brain microglial activation and functional recovery was assessed up to 28 days postinjury. By using primary microglial and BV2 cell cultures, the authors examined propofol modulation of lipopolysaccharide and interferon-γ–induced microglial reactivity and neurotoxicity.
Results: Propofol improved cognitive recovery after TBI in novel object recognition test (48 ± 6% for propofol [n = 15] vs. 30 ± 4% for isoflurane [n = 14]; P = 0.005). The functional improvement with propofol was associated with limited microglial activation and decreased cortical lesion volume and neuronal loss. Propofol also attenuated lipopolysaccharide- and interferon-γ–induced microglial activation in vitro, with reduced expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, nitric oxide, tumor necrosis factor-α, interlukin-1β, reactive oxygen species, and NADPH oxidase. Microglial-induced neurotoxicity in vitro was also markedly reduced by propofol. The protective effect of propofol was attenuated when the NADPH oxidase subunit p22phox was knocked down by small interfering RNA. Moreover, propofol reduced the expression of p22phox and gp91phox, two key components of NADPH oxidase, after TBI.
Conclusion: The neuroprotective effects of propofol after TBI appear to be mediated, in part, through the inhibition of NADPH oxidase.