Ketamine does not impair heat tolerance in rats.
ABSTRACT Exposure to organophosphorus compounds, either pesticides or chemical warfare agents such as soman or sarin, represents a major health problem. Organophosphorus poisoning may induce seizures, status epilepticus and even brain lesions if untreated. Ketamine, an antagonist of glutamatergic receptors, was recently proved to be effective in combination with atropine sulfate as an anticonvulsant and neuroprotectant in mice and guinea pigs exposed to soman. Organophosphorus exposure may also occur in conditions of contemporary heat exposure. Since both MK-801, a more potent glutamatergic antagonist than ketamine, and atropine sulfate are detrimental for thermoregulation, we evaluated the pathophysiological consequences of ketamine/atropine combinations in a hot environment. Male wistar rats were exposed to 38°C ambient temperature and treated with atropine sulfate and/or ketamine (anesthetic and subanesthetic doses). The abdominal temperature and spontaneous locomotor activity were continuously monitored using telemetry. At the end of heat exposure, blood chemistry and the mRNA expression of some specific genes in the brain were assessed. Unlike MK-801, ketamine did not induce any deleterious effect on thermoregulation in rats. Conversely, atropine sulfate led to heatstroke and depressed the heat-induced blood corticosterone increase. Furthermore, it induced a dramatic increase in Hsp70 and c-Fos mRNA levels and a decrease in IκBα mRNA expression, both suggesting brain aggression. When combined with the anesthetic dose of ketamine, some of the atropine-induced metabolic disturbances were modified. In conclusion, ketamine can be used in hot environment and may even limit some of the biological alterations induced by atropine sulfate in these conditions.