Background: Sevoflurane, a volatile anesthetic, is known to induce widespread neuronal degeneration and apoptosis. Recently, the stress-inducible protein sestrin 2 and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) have been found to regulate the levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and suppress oxidative stress. Notoginsenoside R1 (NGR1), a saponin isolated from Panax notoginseng, has been shown to exert neuroprotective effects. The effects of NGR1 against neurotoxicity induced by sevoflurane were assessed.

Methods: Sprague-Dawley rat pups on postnatal day 7 (PD7) were exposed to sevoflurane (3%) anesthesia for 6 h. NGR1 at doses of 12.5, 25, or 50 mg/kg body weight was orally administered to pups from PD2 to PD7.

Results: Pretreatment with NGR1 attenuated sevoflurane-induced generation of ROS and reduced apoptotic cell counts. Western blotting revealed decreased cleaved caspase 3 and Bad and Bax pro-apoptotic protein expression. NGR1 substantially upregulated nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) expression along with increased heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase-1 levels, suggesting Nrf2 signaling activation. Enhanced sestrin-2 and phosphorylated AMPK expression were noticed following NGR1 pretreatment.

Conclusion: This study revealed the neuroprotective effects of NGR1 through effective suppression of apoptosis and ROS via regulation of apoptotic proteins and activation of Nrf2/HO-1 and sestrin 2/AMPK signaling cascades.

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Yibing Zhang et al.
Translational Neuroscience June 2022