Kodama, Mitsuyoshi M.D.; Satoh, Yasushi Ph.D.; Otsubo, Yukiko D.D.S.; Araki, Yoshiyuki M.D.; Yonamine, Ryuji M.D.; Masui, Kenichi M.D., Ph.D.; Kazama, Tomiei M.D., Ph.D.
Anesthesiology. 2011 Sep 27. [Epub ahead of print]


Background: In animal models, neonatal exposure to volatile anesthetics induces neuroapoptosis, leading to memory deficits in adulthood. However, effects of neonatal exposure to desflurane are largely unknown.

Methods: Six-day-old C57BL/6 mice were exposed to equivalent doses of desflurane, sevoflurane, or isoflurane for 3 or 6 h. Minimum alveolar concentration was determined by the tail-clamp method as a function of anesthesia duration. Apoptosis was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining for activated caspase-3, and by TUNEL. Western blot analysis for cleaved poly-(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase was performed to examine apoptosis comparatively. The open-field, elevated plus-maze, Y-maze, and fear conditioning tests were performed to evaluate general activity, anxiety-related behavior, working memory, and long-term memory, respectively.

Results: Minimum alveolar concentrations at 1 h were determined to be 11.5% for desflurane, 3.8% for sevoflurane, and 2.7% for isoflurane in 6-day-old mice. Neonatal exposure to desflurane (8%) induced neuroapoptosis with an anatomic pattern similar to that of sevoflurane or isoflurane; however, desflurane induced significantly greater levels of neuroapoptosis than almost equivalent doses of sevoflurane (3%) or isoflurane (2%). In adulthood, mice treated with these anesthetics had impaired long-term memory, whereas no significant anomalies were detected in the open-field and the elevated plus-maze tests. Although performance in a working memory task was normal in mice exposed neonatally to sevoflurane or isoflurane, mice exposed to desflurane had significantly impaired working memory.

Conclusions: In an animal model, neonatal desflurane exposure induced more neuroapoptosis than did sevoflurane or isoflurane and impaired working memory, suggesting that desflurane is more neurotoxic than sevoflurane or isoflurane.

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