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Surgical trauma can cause brain oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, leading to postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD), especially in the elderly. Additionally, the pre-existing risk factors may enhance POCD. Gut microbiota-derived metabolite trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) has recently been shown to contribute to the pathogenesis of many diseases by increasing oxidative stress and inflammation in the peripheral tissues. Here we examined whether the presence of elevated circulating TMAO would influence surgery-induced cognitive decline. Aged rats were treated with vehicle or TMAO for 3 weeks. After two weeks of treatment, these rats underwent sham-operation or laparotomy. One week after surgery, rats underwent laparotomy exhibited hippocampal-dependent cognitive dysfunction as evidenced by reduced contextual freezing time, which was associated with elevated plasma proinflammatory cytokine levels, increased microglia-mediated neuroinflammation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the hippocampus. Treatment with TMAO, which elevated plasma TMAO before and 1 week after surgery, further increased microglia-mediated neuroinflammation and ROS production in the hippocampus, resulting in exaggerated cognitive dysfunction in laparotomy group but not in sham-operation group. Moreover, TMAO treatment decreased expression of antioxidant enzyme methionine sulfoxide reductase (Msr) A in both groups. The results suggest that the presence of elevated circulating TMAO downregulates antioxidant enzyme MsrA in the hippocampus, which may increase the susceptibility to surgery-induced oxidative stress, contributing to exaggerations of neuroinflammation and cognitive decline in aged rats following surgery. Interventions to reduce circulating TMAO in the perioperative period may be a novel strategy to prevent the exaggeration of cognitive decline in elderly patients with high circulating TMAO.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Behavioural brain research
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