Data from animal experiments suggest that exposure to general anesthetics in early life inhibits neurogenesis and causes long-term memory deficit. Considering short operating times and the popularity of sevoflurane in pediatric anesthesia, it is important to verify the effects of short-period exposure to sevoflurane on the developing brain.


We measured the effects of short-term exposure (2 h) to 3%, 6%, or 8% sevoflurane, the most commonly used anesthetic, on neural precursor cells derived from human embryonic stem cells, SNUhES32. Cell survival, proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 post treatment were analyzed.


Treatment with 6% sevoflurane increased cell viability (P = 0.046) and decreased apoptosis (P = 0.014) on day 5, but the effect did not persist on day 7. Survival and apoptosis were not affected by 3% and 8% sevoflurane; there was no effect of proliferation at any of the tested concentrations. The differentiation of cells exposed to 6% or 8% sevoflurane decreased on day 1 (P = 0.033 and P = 0.036 for 6% and 8% sevoflurane, respectively) but was again normalized on days 3-7.


Clinically relevant treatment with sevoflurane for 2 h induces no significant changes in the survival, proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation of human neural precursor cells, although supraclinical doses of sevoflurane do alter human neurogenesis transiently.

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