August 13, 2009

Surgical oxygen may speed up Alzheimer’s

U.S. researchers say they have linked oxygen treatment during surgery to hastened memory loss in mice.

The study, published in NeuroReport, suggests elderly patients genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's disease who receive high concentration of oxygen because of surgery may start exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer's disease sooner.

Gary Arendash of the University of Southern Florida in Tampa and Dr. Jackson Roberts II of Vanderbilt University in Nashville exposed mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's-like memory loss as they get older to 100 percent oxygen during several 3-hour sessions. The mice demonstrated substantial memory loss not otherwise present at their age. Young adult Alzheimer's mice exposed to normal air had no measurable memory loss, and neither did normal mice without any genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's disease.

Although oxygen treatment beneficially increases the oxygen content of blood during or after major surgery, it also has several negative effects that we believe may trigger Alzheimer's symptoms in those destined to develop the disease, Arendash said in a statement.