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Effects of Propofol on the Activation of Hippocampal CaMKIIα in Depressed Rats Receiving Electroconvulsive Therapy

Li, Xiao MSm; Li, Wei MD; Luo, Jie MD; Wei, Ke MD; Li, Ping MD; Liu, Xiao-bin MSm; Min, Su BSm

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e31826140c7
Original Studies

Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of propofol on the activation of hippocampal calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IIα (CaMKIIα) in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in a rat model of depression.

Methods Sprague-Dawley rats were stressed repeatedly for 28 days to establish a depressed model. Forty depressed rats were then randomly assigned (n = 10 per group) to the depression group, propofol group (received propofol once a day for 1 week), ECT group (treated with ECT once a day for 1 week), or propofol + ECT group (treated with ECT pretreated and propofol once a day for 1 week). Their depressive state was assessed using the sucrose preference test and open-field test, whereas their learning and memory were evaluated using the Morris water maze task. The expression levels of CaMKIIα and phosphorylated CaMKIIα (pCaMKIIα) were detected by immunohistochemistry.

Results Compared with the depression group, the ECT and propofol + ECT groups had higher sucrose preference percentages and scored higher on the open-field test. The ECT group exhibited longer escape latency, shorter space exploration time, down-regulated expressions of CaMKIIα and pCaMKIIα in the hippocampus, and lower pCaMKIIα/CaMKIIα values. The propofol + ECT group showed up-regulated expressions of CaMKIIα and pCaMKIIα in the hippocampus. Compared with the ECT group, the propofol + ECT group exhibited shorter escape latency, longer space exploration time, up-regulated expressions of CaMKIIα and pCaMKIIα, and higher pCaMKIIα/CaMKIIα values.

Conclusions Propofol may potentially alleviate ECT-induced learning/memory impairment in depressed rats by enhancing CaMKIIα activation in the hippocampus.

From the Department of Anesthesiology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.

Received for publication March 13, 2012; accepted May 24, 2012.

Reprints: Su Min, BSm, Department of Anesthesiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, First Youyi Road, Yuan Jia Gang, Chongqing 400016 (e-mail:

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30972831) and the Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing Education Committee (Grant No. KJ090309).

Xiao Li and Wei Li contributed equally to this work.

The authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.