Propofol is one of the main sedatives but its negative side effects limit its clinical application. Chitosan oligosaccharide (COS), a kind of natural product with anti-pain and anti-inflammatory activities, may be a potential adjuvant to propofol use. A total of 94 patients receiving surgeries were evenly and randomly assigned to two groups: 10 mg/kg COS oral administration and/or placebo oral administration before being injected with propofol. The target-controlled infusion of propofol was adjusted to maintain the values of the bispectral index at 50. All patients’ pain was evaluated on a four-point scale and side effects were investigated. To explore the molecular mechanism for the functions of COS in propofol use, a mouse pain model was established. The activities of Nav1.7 were analyzed in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) cells. The results showed that the patients receiving COS pretreatment were likely to require less propofol than the patients pretreated with placebo for maintaining an anesthetic situation (p
< 0.05). The degrees of injection pain were lower in a COS-pretreated group than in a propofol-pretreated group. The side effects were also more reduced in a COS-treated group than in a placebo-pretreated group. COS reduced the activity of Nav1.7 and its inhibitory function was lost when Nav1.7 was silenced (p
> 0.05). COS improved propofol performance by affecting Nav1.7 activity. Thus, COS is a potential adjuvant to propofol use in surgical anesthesia.
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