Neuroprotective effects of propofol in models of cerebral ischemia: Inhibition of mitochondrial swelling as a possible mechanism

Chiara Adembri*, Luna Venturi, Alessia Tani, Alberto Chiarugi, Elena Gramigni, Andrea Cozzi, Tristano Pancani, Raffaele A. De Gaudio, Domenico E. Pellegrini-Giampietro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Background: Propofol (2,6-diisopropylphenol) has been shown to attenuate neuronal injury in a number of experimental conditions, but studies in models of cerebral ischemia have yielded conflicting results. Moreover, the mechanisms involved in its neuroprotective effects are yet unclear. Methods: The authors evaluated the neuroprotective effects of propofol in rat organotypic hippocampal slices exposed to oxygen-glucose deprivation, an in vitro model of cerebral ischemia. To investigate its possible mechanism of action, the authors then examined whether propofol could reduce Ca 2+-induced rat brain mitochondrial swelling, an index of mitochondrial membrane permeability, as well as the mitochondrial swelling evoked by oxygen-glucose deprivation in CA1 pyramidal cells by transmission electron microscopy. Finally, they evaluated whether propofol could attenuate the infarct size and improve the neurobehavioral outcome in rats subjected to permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion in vivo. Results: When present in the incubation medium during oxygen-glucose deprivation and the subsequent 24 h recovery period, propofol (10-100 μM) attenuated CA1 injury in hippocampal slices in vitro. Ca 2+-induced brain mitochondrial swelling was prevented by 30-100 μM propofol, and so were the ultrastructural mitochondrial changes in CA1 pyramidal cells exposed to oxygen-glucose deprivation. Twenty-four hours after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion, propofol (100 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) reduced the infarct size by approximately 30% when administered immediately after and up to 30 min after the occlusion. Finally, propofol administered within 30 min after middle cerebral artery occlusion was unable to affect the global neurobehavioral score but significantly preserved spontaneous activity in ischemic rats. Conclusions: These results show that propofol, at clinically relevant concentrations, is neuroprotective in models of cerebral ischemia in vitro and in vivo and that it may act by preventing the increase in neuronal mitochondrial swelling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroprotective effects of propofol in models of cerebral ischemia: Inhibition of mitochondrial swelling as a possible mechanism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this