Postoperative cognitive dysfunction and neuroinflammation; Cardiac surgery and abdominal surgery are not the same

Hovens, I. B., van Leeuwen, B. L., Mariani, M. A., Kraneveld, A. D. & Schoemaker, R. G. May-2016 In : Brain behavior and immunity. 54, p. 178-193 16 p.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a debilitating surgical complication, with cardiac surgery patients at particular risk. To gain insight in the mechanisms underlying the higher incidence of POCD after cardiac versus non-cardiac surgery, systemic and central inflammatory changes, alterations in intraneuronal pathways, and cognitive performance were studied after cardiac and abdominal surgery in rats.

Male Wistar rats were subjected to ischemia reperfusion of the upper mesenteric artery (abdominal surgery) or the left coronary artery (cardiac surgery). Control rats remained naive, received anesthesia only, or received thoracic sham surgery. Rats were subjected to affective and cognitive behavioral tests in postoperative week 2. Plasma concentrations of inflammatory factors, and markers for neuroinflammation (NGAL and microglial activity) and the BDNF pathway (BDNF, p38MAPK and DCX) were determined.

Spatial memory was impaired after both abdominal and cardiac surgery, but only cardiac surgery impaired spatial learning and object recognition. While all surgical procedures elicited a pronounced acute systemic inflammatory response, NGAL and TNF alpha levels were particularly increased after abdominal surgery. Conversely, NGAL in plasma and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and microglial activity in hippocampus and prefrontal cortex on postoperative day 14 were increased after cardiac, but not abdominal surgery. Both surgery types induced hippocampal alterations in BDNF signaling.

These results suggest that POCD after cardiac surgery, compared to non-cardiac surgery, affects different cognitive domains and hence may be more extended rather than more severe. Moreover, while abdominal surgery effects seem limited to hippocampal brain regions, cardiac surgery seems associated with more wide spread alterations in the brain. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
JournalBrain behavior and immunity
StatePublished - May-2016


  • Postoperative cognitive dysfunction, Surgery, Cardiac, Abdominal, Behavior, Cognition, Neuroinflammation, Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Neurogenesis, HYPOTHALAMIC PARAVENTRICULAR NUCLEUS, MYOCARDIAL ISCHEMIA-REPERFUSION, GELATINASE-ASSOCIATED LIPOCALIN, ARTERY-BYPASS-SURGERY, CARDIOPULMONARY BYPASS, HEART-FAILURE, AGED RATS, NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR, METABOLIC SYNDROME, INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE

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