Understanding how the brain recovers from unconsciousness can inform neurobiological theories of consciousness and guide clinical investigation. To address this question, we conducted a multicenter study of 60 healthy humans, half of whom received general anesthesia for three hours and half of whom served as awake controls. We administered a battery of neurocognitive tests and recorded electroencephalography to assess cortical dynamics. We hypothesized that recovery of consciousness and cognition is an extended process, with differential recovery of cognitive functions that would commence with return of responsiveness and end with return of executive function, mediated by prefrontal cortex. We found that, just prior to the recovery of consciousness, frontal-parietal dynamics returned to baseline. Consistent with our hypothesis, cognitive reconstitution after anesthesia evolved over time. Contrary to our hypothesis, executive function returned first. Early engagement of prefrontal cortex in recovery of consciousness and cognition is consistent with global neuronal workspace theory.
All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data have been provided for Figures 2-5.
- George A Mashour
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The study received ethics committee approval from the University of Michigan, Washington University, and the University of Pennsylvania; written informed consent was obtained after careful discussion with each participant.
- Redmond G O'Connell, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
© 2021, Mashour et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Billions of apoptotic cells are removed daily in a human adult by professional phagocytes (e.g. macrophages) and neighboring nonprofessional phagocytes (e.g. stromal cells). Despite being a type of professional phagocyte, neutrophils are thought to be excluded from apoptotic sites to avoid tissue inflammation. Here, we report a fundamental and unexpected role of neutrophils as the predominant phagocyte responsible for the clearance of apoptotic hepatic cells in the steady state. In contrast to the engulfment of dead cells by macrophages, neutrophils burrowed directly into apoptotic hepatocytes, a process we term perforocytosis, and ingested the effete cells from the inside. The depletion of neutrophils caused defective removal of apoptotic bodies, induced tissue injury in the mouse liver, and led to the generation of autoantibodies. Human autoimmune liver disease showed similar defects in the neutrophil-mediated clearance of apoptotic hepatic cells. Hence, neutrophils possess a specialized immunologically silent mechanism for the clearance of apoptotic hepatocytes through perforocytosis, and defects in this key housekeeping function of neutrophils contribute to the genesis of autoimmune liver disease.
While mitochondria in different tissues have distinct preferences for energy sources, they are flexible in utilizing competing substrates for metabolism according to physiological and nutritional circumstances. However, the regulatory mechanisms and significance of metabolic flexibility are not completely understood. Here, we report that the deletion of Ptpmt1, a mitochondria-based phosphatase, critically alters mitochondrial fuel selection – the utilization of pyruvate, a key mitochondrial substrate derived from glucose (the major simple carbohydrate), is inhibited, whereas the fatty acid utilization is enhanced. Ptpmt1 knockout does not impact the development of the skeletal muscle or heart. However, the metabolic inflexibility ultimately leads to muscular atrophy, heart failure, and sudden death. Mechanistic analyses reveal that the prolonged substrate shift from carbohydrates to lipids causes oxidative stress and mitochondrial destruction, which in turn results in marked accumulation of lipids and profound damage in the knockout muscle cells and cardiomyocytes. Interestingly, Ptpmt1 deletion from the liver or adipose tissue does not generate any local or systemic defects. These findings suggest that Ptpmt1 plays an important role in maintaining mitochondrial flexibility and that their balanced utilization of carbohydrates and lipids is essential for both the skeletal muscle and the heart despite the two tissues having different preferred energy sources.