The States of Different 5-HT Receptors Located in the Dorsal Raphe Nucleus Are Crucial for Regulating the Awakening During General Anesthesia

Mol Neurobiol. 2023 Dec;60(12):6931-6948. doi: 10.1007/s12035-023-03519-0. Epub 2023 Jul 29.


General anesthesia is widely used in various clinical practices due to its ability to cause loss of consciousness. However, the exact mechanism of anesthesia-induced unconsciousness remains unclear. It is generally thought that arousal-related brain nuclei are involved. 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is closely associated with sleep arousal. Here, we explore the role of the 5-HT system in anesthetic awakening through pharmacological interventions and optogenetic techniques. Our data showed that exogenous administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and optogenetic activation of 5-HT neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) could significantly shorten the emergence time of sevoflurane anesthesia in mice, suggesting that regulation of the 5-HT system using both endogenous and exogenous approaches could mediate delayed emergence. In addition, we first discovered that the different 5-HT receptors located in the DR, known as 5-HT autoreceptors, are essential for the regulation of general anesthetic awakening, with 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A/C receptors playing a regulatory role. These results can provide a reliable theoretical basis as well as potential targets for clinical intervention to prevent delayed emergence and some postoperative risks.

Keywords: 5-HT1A receptor; 5-hydroxytryptamine; Dorsal raphe nucleus; General anesthesia; Sevoflurane.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General
  • Animals
  • Dorsal Raphe Nucleus*
  • Mice
  • Neurons
  • Optogenetics
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A
  • Serotonin*


  • Serotonin
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A