Study reveals how anaesthesia causes jet-lag

April 17, 2012, University of Auckland

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from The University of Auckland have discovered why people feel as though they have jet-lag after surgery, and the findings may have implications for post-operative recovery.

“Our work shows that general anaesthesia effectively shifts you to a different zone, producing chemically-induced jet-lag,” explains lead researcher Dr Guy Warman from the Department of Anaesthesiology and School of Biological Sciences at The University of Auckland. “It provides a scientific explanation for why people wake up from surgery feeling as though very little time has passed.”

The study showed for the first time that general anaesthetic alters the activity of key genes that control the biological clock, shifting them to a different time zone. The effect persists for at least three days, even in the presence of strong light cues telling the brain the correct time of day.

“It’s been known for some time that after anaesthesia people’s biological clocks are disrupted, and this can compromise their sleep pattern and mood as well as wound healing and immune function. By understanding why this happens we can work out how to treat it and potentially improve post-operative recovery,” says Dr Warman.

The work was done using honey bees. “It might sound unusual, but in fact bees are an ideal species to study time perception. Honey bees have an amazingly accurate sense of time, which allows them to forage and find flowers in the right place at the right time of day. By looking at their behaviour we can get a clear idea of what time of day they think it is, and quantify the effects of anaesthesia. An added advantage is that their biological clocks work in a very similar way to mammals.”

In the research, bees were trained to travel to a specific food source before being given a commonly-used anaesthetic. By tracking the direction they flew after waking from anaesthesia, or how long their foraging behaviour was delayed, researchers could work out what time of day the thought it was. The results showed that the bee’s sense of time was significantly slowed during .

The researchers are already putting their findings to use in clinical studies in New Zealand, examining the extent of post-operative in patients and how it may be treated.

The honey bee work was funded by a Marsden grant and has been published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Explore further: Antibiotic dangers trap bees in a Catch 22

More information: www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/04/09/1201734109

Related Stories

Antibiotic dangers trap bees in a Catch 22

November 2, 2011
Honey bees are trapped in a Catch 22 where antibiotics used to protect them from bacterial illnesses ravaging hives are making them die from commonly used pesticides, some of which are used to ward-off bee-killing parasites.

Recommended for you

Forces from fluid in the developing lung play an essential role in organ development

January 23, 2018
It is a marvel of nature: during gestation, multiple tissue types cooperate in building the elegantly functional structures of organs, from the brain's folds to the heart's multiple chambers. A recent study by Princeton researchers ...

Anemia discovery offers new targets to treat fatigue in millions

January 22, 2018
A new discovery from the University of Virginia School of Medicine has revealed an unknown clockwork mechanism within the body that controls the creation of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. The finding sheds light on iron-restricted ...

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.