Ketamine-induced attenuation of reactive oxygen species in zebrafish is prevented by acetyl l-carnitine in vivo.


Division of Neurotoxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 3900 NCTR Road, Jefferson, AR, 72079, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Ketamine, an anesthetic, is a non-competitive antagonist of the calcium-permeable N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. High concentrations of ketamine have been implicated in cardiotoxicity and neurotoxicity. Often, these toxicities are thought to be mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, findings to the contrary showing ketamine reducing ROS in mammalian cells and neurons in vitro, are emerging. Here, we determined the effects of ketamine on ROS levels in zebrafish larvae in vivo. Based on our earlier studies demonstrating reduction in ATP levels by ketamine, we hypothesized that as a calcium antagonist, ketamine would also prevent ROS generation, which is a by-product of ATP synthesis. To confirm that the detected ROS in a whole organism, such as the zebrafish larva, is specific, we used diphenyleneiodonium (DPI) that blocks ROS production by inhibiting the NADPH Oxidases (NOX). Upon 20 h exposure, DPI (5 and 10 μM) and ketamine at (1 and 2 mM) reduced ROS in the zebrafish larvae in vivo. Using acetyl l-carnitine (ALCAR), a dietary supplement, that induces mitochondrial ATP synthesis, we show elevated ROS generation with increasing ALCAR concentrations. Combined, ketamine and ALCAR counter-balanced ROS generation in the larvae suggesting that ketamine and ALCAR have opposing effects on mitochondrial metabolism, which may be key to maintaining ROS homeostasis in the larvae and affords ALCAR the ability to prevent ketamine toxicity. These results for the first time show ketamine's antioxidative and ALCAR's prooxidative effects in a live vertebrate.


Acetyl l-carnitine,Diphenyleneiodonium,Ketamine,ROS,Zebrafish,

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