Journal of Anesthesia

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 731–739 | Cite as

Remifentanil suppresses increase in interleukin-6 mRNA in the brain by inhibiting cyclic AMP synthesis

  • Shigeru MaedaEmail author
  • Tsugunobu Andoh
  • Rieko Onishi
  • Yumiko Tomoyasu
  • Hitoshi Higuchi
  • Takuya Miyawaki
Original Article



Neuronal inflammation is caused by systemic inflammation and induces cognitive dysfunction. IL-6 plays a crucial role in therapies for neuronal inflammation and cognitive dysfunction. Remifentanil, an ultra-short-acting opioid, controls inflammatory reactions in the periphery, but not in the brain. Therefore, the anti-inflammatory effects of remifentanil in neuronal tissue and the involvement of cAMP in these effects were investigated in the present study.


Mice were divided into 4 groups: control, remifentanil, LPS, and LPS + remifentanil. Brain levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNA, and serum levels of corticosterone, catecholamine and IL-6 were measured in the 4 groups. The co-localization of IL-6 and astrocytes in the mouse brain after the LPS injection was validated by immunostaining. LPS and/or remifentanil-induced changes in intracellular cAMP levels in cultured glial cells were measured, and the effects of cAMP on LPS-induced IL-6 mRNA expression levels were evaluated.


Remifentanil suppressed increase in IL-6 mRNA levels in the mouse brain, and also inhibited the responses of plasma IL-6, corticosterone, and noradrenaline in an inflammatory state. In the hypothalamus, IL-6 was localized in the median eminence, at which GFAP immunoreactivity was specifically detected. In cultured cells, remifentanil suppressed increase in IL-6 mRNA levels and intracellular cAMP levels after the administration of LPS, and this enhanced IL-6 mRNA expression in response to LPS.


Remifentanil suppressed increase in IL-6 mRNA levels in the brain in an inflammatory state, and this effect may be attributed to its direct action on neuronal cells through the inhibition of intracellular cAMP rather than corticosterone.


CNS diseases Inflammation Interleukin-6 Remifentanil cAMP 



This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 25463135 and 16K1175008.

Author contributions

SM conducted the in vivo and in vitro studies; SM wrote the manuscript; AT conducted HPLC; RO and YT conducted some of the in vitro analyses; HH developed the models used for the analyses of in vitro data; MT supervised the work and manuscript preparation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Dental AnesthesiologyOkayama University HospitalOkayamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Applied Pharmacology, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of ToyamaToyamaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Dental Anesthesiology, and Special Care Dentistry, Okayama University Graduate School of MedicineDentistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesOkayamaJapan

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