For decades, the neurotoxicity caused by anesthetics in mammalian brain development has gained increasing attention. Exposure to anesthetics leads to neurotoxicity and apoptosis of nerve cells, which in turn induces cognitive dysfunction. Although most of the data came from animal studies, general anesthetics have been shown to have adverse effects on cognitive function in infants and young children in recent years. This concern has led to a number of retrospective studies that observed an association between general anesthesia in pregnant women and neurobehavioral problems in fetuses or offspring. Every year, many pregnant women undergo non-obstetric anesthesia due to various reasons such as traffic accidents, fetal interventions, acute appendicitis, symptomatic cholelithiasis, and trauma. A matter of concern for these pregnant women is whether anesthesia has a detrimental effect on fetal brain development in the womb and whether the fetus has cognitive impairment after birth. In humans, the association of anesthetic exposure in infants with the long-term impairment of neurologic functions has been reported in several retrospective clinical studies. Recently, we have found that sevoflurane anesthesia during pregnancy in mice-induced cognitive impairment in the offspring by causing iron deficiency and inhibiting myelinogenesis. Sevoflurane is a commonly used general anesthetic in the hospitals, which can induce neurotoxicity and cause cognitive impairment in fetuses, infants, children, and adults. However, the exact mechanism of sevoflurane-induced damage to the central nervous system (CNS) is not fully understood. Based on our recent results, this paper reviewed the effects of sevoflurane on cognitive impairment and pathological changes such as neurogenesis, neuronal apoptosis, and iron metabolism dysfunction in the offspring.

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