Secobarbital attenuates excitotoxicity but potentiates oxygen-glucose deprivation neuronal injury in cortical cell culture

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1993 Sep;13(5):803-10. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.1993.102.


We examined the effects of secobarbital and other sedative-hypnotic barbiturates on the neuronal death induced by exposure to excitatory amino acids or deprivation of oxygen or glucose in mouse cortical cell cultures. N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazolepropionate, and kainate toxicities were attenuated in a concentration-dependent fashion by high concentrations of secobarbital or thiopental. Antagonism of NMDA toxicity was not overcome by increasing NMDA concentration and not mimicked by gamma-aminobutyrate. Despite these antiexcitotoxic actions, secobarbital exacerbated the neuronal death induced by deprivation of either glucose alone or oxygen and glucose together; death induced by oxygen deprivation alone was little affected. Thiopental and methohexital also increased oxygen-glucose deprivation injury. A possible explanation for this injury potentiation was provided by the observation that secobarbital enhanced the cellular ATP depletion induced by combined oxygen-glucose deprivation. Deleterious effects on ATP production may counterbalance the protective effects of barbiturates under some conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Glucose / deficiency*
  • Hypoxia / pathology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurotoxins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Secobarbital / pharmacology*


  • Neurotoxins
  • Secobarbital
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Glucose