Birth defects research. Part B, Developmental and reproductive toxicology, October 2014.
Dong C, Rovnaghi CR, Anand KJ.


Ketamine is widely used as an anesthetic, analgesic, or sedative in pediatric patients. We reported that ketamine alters the normal neurogenesis of rat fetal neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs) in the developing brain, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. The PI3K-PKB/Akt (phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B) signaling pathway plays many important roles in cell survival, apoptosis, and proliferation. We hypothesized that PI3K-PKB/Akt signaling may be involved in ketamine-altered neurogenesis of cultured NSPCs in vitro. NSPCs were isolated from Sprague-Dawley rat fetuses on gestational day 17. 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation, Ki67 staining, and differentiation tests were utilized to identify primary cultured NSPCs. Immunofluorescent staining was used to detect Akt expression, whereas Western blots measured phosphorylated Akt and p27 expression in NSPCs exposed to different treatments. We report that cultured NSPCs had properties of neurogenesis: proliferation and neural differentiation. PKB/Akt was expressed in cultured rat fetal cortical NSPCs. Ketamine inhibited the phosphorylation of Akt and further enhanced p27 expression in cultured NSPCs. All ketamine-induced PI3K/Akt signaling changes could be recovered by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor agonist, NMDA. These data suggest that the inhibition of PI3K/Akt-p27 signaling may be involved in ketamine-induced neurotoxicity in the developing brain, whereas excitatory NMDA receptor activation may reverse these effects.

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