• Alzheimer's disease;
  • anesthesia;
  • Morris water maze;
  • postoperative cognitive decline;
  • tau


Anesthesia is related to cognitive impairment and the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Hypothermia during anesthesia can lead to abnormal hyperphosphorylation of tau, which has been speculated to be involved in anesthesia-induced cognitive impairment. The aim of this study was to investigate whether maintenance of the tau phosphorylation level by body temperature control during anesthesia could reverse the cognitive dysfunction in C57BL/6 mice.


Eighteen-month-old mice were repeatedly anesthetized during a 2-week period with or without maintenance of body temperature, control mice were treated with normal saline instead of anesthetics. Tau phosphorylation level in mice brain was detected on western blot, and cognitive performance was measured using the Morris water maze (MWM).


After anesthesia-induced hypothermia in old mice, tau was hyperphosphorylated and the cognitive performance, measured on MWM, was impaired. When body temperature was controlled during anesthesia, however, the tau hyperphosphorylation was completely avoided, and there was partial recovery in cognitive impairment measured on the MWM.


Hyperphosphorylation of tau in the brain after anesthesia is an important event, and it might be, although not solely, responsible for postoperative cognitive decline.