Isoflurane is halogenated volatile ether used for inhalational anesthesia. It is widely used in clinics as an inhalational anesthetic. Neonatal hypoxic ischemia injury ensues in the immature brain that results in delayed cell death via excitotoxicity and oxidative stress. Isoflurane has shown neuroprotective properties that make a beneficial basis of using isoflurane in both cell culture and animal models, including various models of brain injury. We aimed to determine the neuroprotective effect of isoflurane on hypoxic brain injury and elucidated the underlying mechanism.


A hippocampal slice, in artificial cerebrospinal fluid with glucose and oxygen deprivation, was used as an in vitro model for brain hypoxia. The orthodromic population spike and hypoxic injury potential were recorded in the CA1 and CA3 regions. Amino acid neurotransmitters concentration in perfusion solution of hippocampal slices was measured.


Isoflurane treatment caused delayed elimination of population spike and improved the recovery of population spike; decreased frequency of hypoxic injury potential, postponed the onset of hypoxic injury potential and increased the duration of hypoxic injury potential. Isoflurane treatment also decreased the hypoxia-induced release of amino acid neurotransmitters such as aspartate, glutamate and glycine induced by hypoxia, but the levels of γ-aminobutyric acid were elevated. Morphological studies showed that isoflurane treatment attenuated edema of pyramid neurons in the CA1 region. It also reduced apoptosis as evident by lowered expression of caspase-3 and PARP genes.


Isoflurane showed a neuro-protective effect on hippocampal neuron injury induced by hypoxia through suppression of apoptosis.