Currently, numerous animal studies have shown that exposure to commonly used general anesthetics during pregnancy may cause neurocognitive impairment in the offspring. Reportedly, exposure to sevoflurane during mid-trimester of pregnancy can inhibit proliferation of neural stem cells (NSCs) and lead to early apoptosis. Whether exposure to sevoflurane during pregnancy affects the differentiation of NSCs remains unclear.


In the present study, pregnant rats were exposed to 3% sevoflurane once for 2 h on gestational day 14 (G14) or 3 times for 2 h on G13, G14, and G15. Next, the differentiation of NSCs was measured using neuron marker β-tubulin III and astrocyte marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in fetal brain tissues 24 h and 72 h after anesthesia and in hippocampus on postnatal day 28. Primary cultured rat NSCs were exposed to 4.1% sevoflurane to explore the mechanism.


The results showed that during mid-trimester, multiple exposures to sevoflurane can cause premature differentiation of NSCs in developing brains of offspring and lead to long-term neuron reduction and astrocyte proliferation in hippocampus. The data from the present study indicated that repeated exposure to sevoflurane downregulated atrophin-1 (ATN1) expression and caused early differentiation of NSCs. Overexpression of ATN1 via lentivirus transfection attenuated the influence of sevoflurane. Using dual luciferase assay, ATN1 was found to be a target gene of microRNA-410-3p (miR-410-3p). MiR-410-3p suppression via lentivirus transfection recovered the ATN1 expression and differentiation of NSCs.


The results from the present study demonstrated that repeated exposure to sevoflurane leads to early differentiation of NSCs and long-term effects via the miR-410-3p/ATN1 pathway.

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