02456-A: The Impact of Intravenous Anesthetic Agents on Canine Natural Killer Cell

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $14,945
Oliver A Garden, BVetMed, PhD; Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
January 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020


Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Oncology
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Dogs are often placed under general anesthesia for diagnostic and surgical procedures. Aside from the well-known risks of anesthesia, such as heart or lung depression, anesthetic agents can also suppress immune function. This poorly understood phenomenon is especially important in dogs that may already suffer from immune compromise, such as those with critical illness or cancer. The role of commonly used anesthetic agents, such as ketamine and propofol, on immune function in patients with cancer is being investigated in laboratory animals and humans, with ketamine increasing the spread of cancer to the lungs in rats compared to propofol. Unfortunately, there is no current research in dogs comparing these two anesthetic agents. Additionally, a newer anesthetic agent, alfaxalone, is gaining popularity for use in both healthy and critically ill dogs, but there is no research available on the effects of alfaxalone on immune function in dogs. Given the lack of information of the immune effects of these three anesthetic agents, the objective of this study is to compare the effects of ketamine, propofol and alfaxalone on a type of immune cell that is important in preventing cancer spread (metastasis). Based on the outcome of this research project and further studies, we wish to develop immune-sparing anesthetic protocols to improve outcomes of dogs with cancer undergoing anesthesia for diagnostic procedures or surgery.


Barr, C. A., Alvarado, F., Chang, Y.-M., Luo, J., & Garden, O. A. (2021). The impact of alfaxalone, propofol and ketamine on canine peripheral blood lymphocyte cytotoxicity in vitro. Research in Veterinary Science, 136, 182–184. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rvsc.2021.02.019

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