Employment of anesthetics, including isoflurane, though mandatory in animal experiments, is often regarded as a major limitation because results obtained with anesthetics may be different from those obtained under a conscious state. This study re-visits two issues related to the use of isoflurane. First, does isoflurane exert depression equally on all aspects of cardiovascular functions and their regulations? Second, is the circulatory supply of oxygen to brain tissues sufficient under isoflurane anesthesia? We determined in male C57BL/6J mice the temporal effects of 1.5% (vol/vol) isoflurane on blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), cardiac performance, baroreflex-mediated sympathetic vasomotor tone, cardiac vagal baroreflex, functional connectivity within the baroreflex neural circuits, carotid or cerebral blood flow, cortical tissue oxygen level, respiratory rate and blood gas. Over 150 min after exposure to 1.5% isoflurane, BP and HR were sustained at 71% and 79% of their awake levels amid a trend of progressive increase. Cardiac performance was within physiological ranges. Baroreflex-mediated sympathetic vasomotor tone gradually reversed from an 85% reduction toward the conscious level, alongside a parallel decrease in inhibitory connectivity between nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) and rostral ventrolateral medulla. A decline in excitatory connectivity between NTS and nucleus ambiguus accompanied the decrease in cardiac vagal baroreflex. There were progressive increases in carotid or cerebral blood flow and tissue oxygen tension in cerebral cortex, alongside gradual hypoventilation, mild respiratory acidosis and hypercapnia. We conclude that, by eliciting disproportional depressive actions on cardiovascular functions and their regulations, which sustain circulatory supply of oxygen to brain tissues, 1.5% isoflurane is sufficient to maintain optimal cardiovascular functions in mice.
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This study was supported in part by research grants MOST-107-2320-B-182A-024, MOST-108-2320-B-182A-007 and MOST-109-2320-B-182A-019 to S.H.H.C. from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Poon, YY., Tsai, CY., Huang, Y. et al. Disproportional cardiovascular depressive effects of isoflurane: Serendipitous findings from a comprehensive re-visit in mice. Lab Anim 50, 26–31 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41684-020-00684-w