Key words General anaesthetics
Electron transport chain
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Abstract Background: General anaesthetics inhibit mitochondrial function in animal models. However, very few studies have been performed in humans, and the results have not been conclusive. Methods: We prospectively studied the oxygen consumption and the individual enzyme activity of each complex of the mitochondrial respiratory chain of skeletal muscle mitochondria in 54 healthy individuals who underwent general anaesthesia for orthopaedic surgery. The control group (n = 54) was made up of individuals submitted to the same orthopaedic procedure under regional anaesthesia (n = 31), and patients who underwent muscle biopsies for diagnostic purposes by local anaesthesia (n = 23). Results: We found a significant decrease in the oxidation of glutamate (−36%), succinate (−25%) and ascorbate (−29%) in the general anaesthetic group compared with the controls (P 〈 0.001 for all substrates). The level of such inhibition was similar for volatile anaesthetics with strong (halothane) or weak (isoflurane) negative inotropic effect. By contrast, the enzymatic activity of all individual complexes and the coupling of oxidative phosphorylation did not differ between the two groups. Conclusion: We conclude that during general anaesthetic procedures there is an extensive inhibition of substrate oxidation in human muscle mitochondria, and that it is not caused by a direct effect on complexes of the mitochondrial respiratory chain or through uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation.
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