Possible involvement of the endocannabinoid system in memory modulation effect of general anesthetics.Med Hypotheses 2011; 77(2):246-9MH
Amnesia is a fundamental component of a proper general anesthetic. The mechanism of anesthetic-induced amnesia remains poorly understood. Nowadays, intraoperative awareness and postoperative cognitive dysfunction are two distressing problems receiving increased attention by clinicians, patients and the general public. Extensive evidence indicates that general anesthetics cause amnesia by working on hippocampus and basolateral amygdala (BLA). Recently, evidence from studies in experimental animals has shown that either intra-hippocampus or intra-BLA injection of endogenous cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) drugs result in significant changes of cognitive function. In addition, several general anesthetics (i.e. propofol, etomidate and isoflurane) have been reported to interact with the endocannabinoid system. However, there are few studies about whether the CB1 receptor system is involved in anesthetic-induced amnesia. We hypothesize that the CB1 receptor activity in hippocampus and BLA might be regulated by general anesthetics. Once the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in anesthetic-induced amnesia is proved, it will provide a new way to prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder caused by intraoperative awareness and postoperative cognitive dysfunction in the future.