Sevoflurane, in particular multiple exposures, has been reported to cause the abnormal neurological development including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study is to investigate ADHD-like impulsivity in adult mice after repeated sevoflurane exposures at the neonatal stage. Six-day-old pups were exposed to 60% oxygen in the presence or absence of 3% sevoflurane for 2 h and the treatment was administrated once daily for three consecutive days. To assess the impulsivity, the cliff avoidance reaction (CAR) was carried out at the 8th week. Our results showed that repeated sevoflurane treatment increased the number of jumps and shortened the jumping latency in the CAR test. The cortices were harvested for immunostaining to detect c-Fos and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IIα (CaMKIIα) expression in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). We found that mPFC neurons, especially excitatory neurons, were highly activated and related to impulsive behavior. The activation viruses (AAV-CaMKIIα-hM3Dq) were injected to evaluate the effects of specific activation of mPFC excitatory neurons on impulsive behavior in the presence of clozapine-N-oxide (CNO). Likewise, the inhibitory viruses (AAV-CaMKIIα-hM4Di) were injected in the sevoflurane group to explore whether the mPFC excitatory neuronal inhibition reduced the impulsivity. Our results revealed that chemogenetic activation of mPFC excitatory neurons induced impulsive behavior whereas inhibition of mPFC excitatory neurons partially rescued the deficit. These results indicate that repeated sevoflurane exposures at the critical time induce impulsive behavior accompanied with overactivation of mPFC excitatory neurons in adult stages. This work may further extend to understand the ADHD-like impulsive behavior of the anesthetic neurotoxicity.

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