A rapid, but short-acting, intravenous drug called propofol is preferentially used for the induction and maintenance of anesthesia.
Propofol can inhibit inflammation and suppress the secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha from astrocytes, and enhance the synthesis and release of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10. Consequently, propofol can inhibit damage caused by proinflammatory cytokines and exert protective effects on the central nervous system. A recent study published in the Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 8, No. 27, 2013) showed that after propofol was injected into the injured sciatic nerve of mice, nuclear factor kappa B expression in the L4-6 segments of the spinal cord in the injured side was reduced, apoptosis was decreased, nerve myelin defects were alleviated, and the nerve conduction block was lessened. The experimental findings indicate that propofol inhibits the inflammatory and immune responses, decreases the expression of nuclear factor kappa B, and reduces apoptosis. These effects of propofol promote regeneration following sciatic nerve injury.