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Joan Trombetti, Writer | May 06, 2009
Artin Shoukas, professor
of biomedical engineering,
physiology and anesthesiology
at Johns Hopkins
Artin Shoukas, professor of biomedical engineering, physiology and anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins and Caitlin Thompson-Torgerson, postdoctoral fellow in anesthesiology and critical care medicine suspected that the reason for Shoukas' loss of taste might be a reaction to a chemical compound of some kind.

Shoukas and his team took liquid samples from IV bags and bypass machines and analyzed the fluids, which they found contained the chemical compound Cyclohexanone, used in the production of plastic devices.

Rats were then injected with either a salt solution or a salt solution containing the cyclohexanone and heart functions were measured.

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Rats that received salt solution only pumped approximately 200 micro-litres of blood per heartbeat and had an average heart rate of 358 beats per minute, while rats injected with cyclohexanone pumped only about 150 micro-liters of blood per heartbeat with an average heart rate of 287 beats per minute.Thus, the team calculated that cyclohexanone caused a 50 percent reduction in the strength of each heart contraction.

They also found that the reflex that helps control and maintain blood pressure is less sensitive after cyclohexanone exposure. Finally, the team observed increased fluid retention and swelling in the rats after cyclohexanone injections.

These new findings also suggest a possible new reason for common side-effects like loss of taste, short term memory loss linked with procedures that require blood to be circulated through plastic tubing outside the body, such as in cases of bypass surgery or kidney dialysis.

The findings appeared in the American Journal of Physiology.