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Keywords:

  • fear-conditioning;
  • hippocampus;
  • inflammation;
  • interleukin-1 beta;
  • interleukin-1 receptor antagonist

Summary

Here I comment on the recent contribution by Barrientos et al. J. Neurosci. 32, 14641–14648 (2012) addressing treatment possibilities for surgery-induced cognitive dysfunction. It has been over 15 years since the publication of a landmark study that indicated age as a major risk factor for postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) (Moller et al., Lancet 351, 857–861 1998). With increasing life expectancy, surgical procedures conducted in elderly persons are becoming more common. The prevalence of POCD may mean that some patients will exchange the incapacitating condition that led them to surgery in the first instance for another such condition, which has been created by the surgical procedure itself. The report by Barrientos and collaborators (2012) is a timely and welcome study that further examines treatment possibilities for surgery-induced cognitive dysfunction. Future studies should address issues such as intensity and onset of inflammation within the brain and additional treatments possibilities beyond IL-1-ra.