Clinical studies suggest that anaesthesia exposure early in life affects neurobehavioural development. We designed a non-human primate (NHP) study to evaluate cognitive, behavioural, and brain functional and structural alterations after isoflurane exposure during infancy. These NHPs displayed decreased close social behaviour and increased astrogliosis in specific brain regions, most notably in the amygdala. Here we hypothesise that resting-state functional connectivity MRI can detect alterations in connectivity of brain areas that relate to these social behaviours and astrogliosis.


Imaging was performed in 2-yr-old NHPs under light anaesthesia, after early-in-life (postnatal days 6–12) exposure to 5 h of isoflurane either one or three times, or to room air. Brain images were segmented into 82 regions of interest; the amygdala and the posterior cingulate cortex were chosen for a seed-based resting-state functional connectivity MRI analysis.


We found differences between groups in resting-state functional connectivity of the amygdala and the auditory cortices, medial premotor cortex, and posterior cingulate cortex. There were also alterations in resting-state functional connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and secondary auditory, polar prefrontal, and temporal cortices, and the anterior insula. Relationships were identified between resting-state functional connectivity alterations and the decrease in close social behaviour and increased astrogliosis.


Early-in-life anaesthesia exposure in NHPs is associated with resting-state functional connectivity alterations of the amygdala and the posterior cingulate cortex with other brain regions, evident at the juvenile age of 2 yr. These changes in resting-state functional connectivity correlate with the decrease in close social behaviour and increased astrogliosis. Using resting-state functional connectivity MRI to study the neuronal underpinnings of early-in-life anaesthesia-induced behavioural alterations could facilitate development of a biomarker for anaesthesia-induced developmental neurotoxicity.
Neudecker et al.
British Journal of Anaesthesia September 2023