Epidemiological studies showed that isoflurane, a general anesthetic widely used in surgery including those for the children, is associated with impairment of neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which are related to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Astragaloside (AS) is an antioxidant derivative from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine Astragalus membraneaceus Bunge. In this study, we used retinal pigment epithelial cells, which share plenty of features with neurodegenerative diseases such as AD and AMD to investigate the effect of AS. Cell cycle re-entry and proapoptosis were seen in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells treated with isoflurane, which was alleviated by pretreatment of AS. Further, tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 5 (TRAF5) and downstream nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) were investigated to elucidate the molecular mechanism underlying protective effect of AS. RPE cells exposed to isoflurane expressed higher TRAF5 and NF-κB than those pretreated with AS, suggesting a critical role of TRAF5 therein. In Morris water maze (MWM) assay, Sprague-Dawley rats pretreated with AS and then exposed to isoflurane spent less time in swimming to the platform, and their TRAF5 expression was significantly lower than those received anesthesia alone. Further studies on the consequence of forced downregulation or upregulation are warranted that may employ cutting-edge technologies such as optogenetics to overcome the difficulties in manipulating expression of TRAF5. Although the link between TRAF5 and neurodegeneration requires more in-depth investigations, our study provide a novel hint on the pathological mechanism of isoflurane and suggest a potential target for eliminating persistent side effect of anesthesia.

Read More