Background: Sevoflurane, one of the most commonly used general anesthetics for pediatric anesthesia, has recently gained significant attention in both preclinical and clinical settings due to its potential neurotoxicity in the developing brain. Tau phosphorylation, induced by sevoflurane, is recognized as one of the major causes of neurotoxicity. 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (DHF), a TrkB receptor agonist, has been reported to exhibit potential neuroprotective effects against tauopathies. In this study, our objective was to investigate whether DHF could provide neuroprotective effects against sevoflurane-induced neurotoxicity and explore the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Methods: Six-day-old mice were subjected to 2 h of anesthesia with 3 % sevoflurane, with or without pretreatment of DHF (5 mg/kg/day, i.p.) for 3 consecutive days. Autonomic motor ability was assessed by open-field test, while learning and memory abilities were evaluated by the fear conditioning test. Western blotting was conducted to measure the levels of t-TrkB, p-TrkB, tau, and phosphorylated tau. Additionally, a co-immunoprecipitation assay was performed to investigate the interaction between O-GlcNAcylation and tau.

Results: Repeated neonatal sevoflurane exposures resulted in reduced freezing time during the context and cued fear conditioning tests in adulthood. However, pretreatment with DHF restored the freezing time to the level of the control group, indicating that DHF effectively alleviated cognitive impairments induced by neonatal sevoflurane exposure. We also observed that repeated neonatal sevoflurane exposures increased tau phosphorylation while decreasing tau O-GlcNAcylation. However, DHF pretreatment rebalanced the tau O-GlcNAcylation/phosphorylation ratio by enhancing the interaction between tau and O-GlcNAcylation.

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that DHF effectively ameliorates sevoflurane-induced cognitive impairment in developing mice by restoring the balance between tau O-GlcNAcylation and phosphorylation. Therefore, this study suggests that DHF has the potential to be a therapeutic agent for treating cognitive impairment associated with anesthetics, such as sevoflurane.

Read more.

Mingliang Xu, Lei Xia, Junjie Li, Yehong Du, & Zhifang Dong.
Neuroscience Letters January 2024