Post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is associated with morbidity, mortality and increased cost of medical care. However, the neuropathogenesis and targeted interventions of POCD remain largely to be determined. We have found that the peripheral surgical wounding induces an age-dependent Aβ accumulation, neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment in aged mice. Pro-inflammatory cytokine interlukin-6 (IL-6) has been reported to be associated with cognitive impairment in rodents and humans. However, the role of IL-6 in the neuropathogenesis of POCD is unknown. We therefore employed pharmacological (IL-6 antibody) and genetic (knockout of IL-6) approach to investigate whether IL-6 contributed to the peripheral surgical wounding-induced cognitive impairment in aged mice. Abdominal surgery under local anesthesia (peripheral surgical wounding) was established in 18-month-old wild-type and IL-6 knockout mice (n = 6 to 10 in each group). Brain level of IL-6 and cognitive function in the mice were determined by western blot, ELISA at the end of procedure, and Fear Conditioning System at 7 days after the procedure. The peripheral surgical wounding increased the level of IL-6 in the hippocampus of aged wild-type, but not IL-6 knockout mice. IL-6 antibody ameliorated the peripheral surgical wounding-induced cognitive impairment in the aged wild-type mice. Finally, the peripheral surgical wounding did not induce cognitive impairment in the aged IL-6 knockout mice. These data suggested that IL-6 would be a required pro-inflammatory cytokine for the peripheral surgical wounding-induced cognitive impairment. Given this, further studies are warranted to investigate the role of IL-6 in the neuropathogenesis and targeted interventions of POCD.
Keywords: cognition; fear conditioning system; interlukin-6; mice; neuroinflammation; peripheral surgical wounding.