Effect of dexmedetomidine on brain edema and neurological outcomes in surgical brain injury in rats

Michael Benggon, Han Chen, Richard Lee Applegate, Robert Martin, John H. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Surgical brain injury (SBI) is damage to functional brain tissue resulting from neurosurgical manipulations such as sharp dissection, electrocautery, retraction, and direct applied pressure. Brain edema is the major contributor to morbidity with inflammation, necrosis, oxidative stress, and apoptosis likely playing smaller roles. Effective therapies for SBI may improve neurological outcomes and postoperative morbidities associated with brain surgery. Previous studies show an adrenergic correlation to blood-brain barrier control. The α-2 receptor agonist dexmedetomidine (DEX) has been shown to improve neurological outcomes in stroke models. We hypothesized that DEX may reduce brain edema and improve neurological outcomes in a rat model of SBI. METHODS:: Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 63) weighing 280 to 350 g were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 IP treatment groups: sham IP, vehicle IP, DEX 10 mg/kg, and DEX 30 mg/kg. Treatments were given 30 min before SBI. These treatment groups were repeated to observe the physiologic impact of DEX on mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), and blood glucose on SBI naïve animals. Rats were also assigned to 4 postinjury IV treatment groups: sham IV, vehicle IV, DEX 10/5, and DEX 30/15 (DEX group doses were 10 and 30 mg/kg/hr, with 5 and 15 mg/kg initial loading doses, respectively). Initial loading doses began 20 min after SBI, followed by 2 h of infusion. SBI animals were subjected to neurological testing 24 h after brain injury by a blinded observer, promptly killed, and brain water content measured via the dry/wet weight method. RESULTS:: All treatment groups showed a significant difference in ipsilateral frontal brain water content and neurological scores when compared with sham animals. However, there was no difference between DEX-treated and vehicle animals. Physiologic monitoring showed treatment with low or high doses of DEX significantly decreased MAP and HR, and briefly increased blood glucose compared with naïve or vehicle-treated animals. CONCLUSIONS:: DEX administration did not reduce brain edema or improve neurological function after SBI in this study. The statistical difference in brain water content and neurological scores when comparing sham treatment to vehicle and DEX treatments shows consistent reproduction of this model. Significant changes in MAP, HR, and blood glucose after DEX as compared to vehicle and sham treatments suggest appropriate delivery of drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-159
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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