To quantitatively investigate the effects of pentobarbital anesthesia on brain activity, brain metabolite concentrations and cerebral metabolic rate of glucose, in vivo proton MR spectra, and electroencephalography were measured in the rat brain with various doses of pentobarbital. The results show that (1) the resonances attributed to propylene glycol, a solvent in pentobarbital injection solution, can be robustly detected and quantified in the brain; (2) the concentration of most brain metabolites remained constant under the isoelectric state (silent electroencephalography) with a high dose of pentobarbital compared to mild isoflurane anesthesia condition, except for a reduction of 61% in the brain glucose level, which was associated with a 37% decrease in cerebral metabolic rate of glucose, suggesting a significant amount of "housekeeping" energy for maintaining brain cellular integrity under the isoelectric state; and (3) electroencephalography and cerebral metabolic activities were tightly coupled to the pentobarbital anesthesia depth and they can be indirectly quantified by the propylene glycol resonance signal at 1.13 ppm. This study indicates that in vivo proton MR spectroscopy can be used to measure changes in cerebral metabolite concentrations and cerebral metabolic rate of glucose under varied pentobarbital anesthesia states; moreover, the propylene glycol signal provides a sensitive biomarker for quantitatively monitoring these changes and anesthesia depth noninvasively.
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