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The effect of ketamine on N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit expression in neonatal rats

Han, Li-Chuna; Yao, Li-nongb; Wu, Sheng-xic; Yang, Yong-huib; Xu, Li-Xiana,*; Chai, Weib,*

European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA): February 2010 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 181–186
doi: 10.1097/EJA.0b013e328330d453
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Background and objective Ketamine has been widely used in paediatric anaesthesia but its influence on development in infants and toddlers still remains unclear. In order to elucidate the influence of ketamine on brain development in neonatal rats, semiquantitative reverse transcriptase PCR, quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and immunohistochemistry assays were performed to detect the expression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subtypes expression.

Methods Seven-day-old rats were divided into two random groups. All of them were injected with ketamine intraperitoneally at postnatal day (PND) 7; one group was sacrificed at PND 7, but the other group was sacrificed at PND 28. Each group was divided into five random subgroups.

Results In the semiquantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR experiments, ketamine treatment caused a marked increase in mRNA expression in all subtypes at PND 7 and in NR2A subtypes at PND 28. Immunohistochemistry results indicated that NR2A, 2B and 2C receptor protein increased significantly at PND 7, and NR2A receptor protein increased at PND 28.

Conclusions Exposure to ketamine resulted in an increase in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunits at PND 7, and this increase persisted to PND 28 in NR2A.

aDepartment of Anesthesiology, School of Stomatology, PR China

bDepartment of Anesthesiology, Tangdu Hospital, PR China

cDepartment of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, K. K. Leung Brain Research Centre, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, PR China

*Dr Li-Xian Xu and Dr Wei Chai contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Received 12 February, 2009

Revised 14 July, 2009

Accepted 14 July, 2009

Correspondence to Dr Li-Xian Xu, Department of Anesthesiology, School of Stomatology, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710032, PR China E-mail:

Correspondence to Dr Wei Chai, Department of Anesthesiology, Tangdu Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, 710038, PR China E-mail:

© 2010 European Society of Anaesthesiology