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(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - MedPage Today Action Points

o Explain to interested patients that Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the death of neurons and the build-up of amyloid-? plaques in the brain.

o Note that this study suggests that a commonly used general anesthetic causes a vicious cycle of cell death and plaque accumulation.

o Caution that the finding arises from experiments in cultured cells and not in human beings, so that more research is needed to see whether the anesthetic has similar effects in people.

BOSTON, Feb. 7 -- A commonly used general anesthetic creates a vicious cycle of cell death and deposits of Alzheimer's disease proteins -- at least in cell culture.

In laboratory experiments with cultured neuroglioma cells, Florane (isoflurane) was linked to increases in apoptosis as well as generation and aggregation of amyloid-?, whose deposits in the brain are characteristic of Alzheimer's, according to Zhongcong Xie, M.D., Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease here.

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CMEinfo: Board Reviews in Anesthesia, Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Radiology

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