Molecular mechanisms transducing the anesthetic, analgesic, and organ-protective actions of xenon.

PMID 16810011


The anesthetic properties of xenon have been known for more than 50 yr, and the safety and efficacy of xenon inhalational anesthesia has been demonstrated in several recent clinical studies. In addition, xenon demonstrates many favorable pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, which could be used in certain niche clinical settings such as cardiopulmonary bypass. This inert gas is capable of interacting with a variety of molecular targets, and some of them are also modulated in anesthesia-relevant brain regions. Besides these anesthetic and analgesic effects, xenon has been shown to exert substantial organoprotective properties, especially in the brain and the heart. Several experimental studies have demonstrated a reduction in cerebral and myocardial infarction after xenon application. Whether this translates to a clinical benefit must be determined because preservation of myocardial and cerebral function may outweigh the significant cost of xenon administration. Clinical trials to assess the impact of xenon in settings with a high probability of injury such as cardiopulmonary bypass and neonatal asphyxia should be designed and underpinned with investigation of the molecular targets that transduce these effects.