In neonatal mice, sevoflurane, inspired through the nasal cavity to act as anesthesia, triggers neuronal apoptosis, inflammation and oxidative injury that can hamper cognitive functions in the growth of the central nervous system in the later stages of life.


Our study aimed to explore the potential neuroprotective effects of protocatechuic acid (PCA) to ameliorate neonatal sevoflurane-induced neurotoxicity.


Male mice were pretreated with PCA (10 or 20 mg/kg) for half an hour before continuous treatment for 6 h with 3 % sevoflurane. TUNEL staining was performed to examine the apoptotic cells to record their count. ELISA was performed to evaluate the expressions of the proteins – IL-1β, IL-18 and TNF-α. Analysis of the Western blot and test of the Morris maze was determined and the results analyzed.


TUNEL findings assay showed a significant reduction with sevoflurane in neuronal apoptosis treated with PCA at 20 mg/kg. The expression of protein Caspase-3 showed significant changes in the group SEV + PCA (20 mg/kg). ELISA analysis showed that the levels of IL-18 and TNF-α were significantly reduced in the SEV + PCA (20 mg/kg) group as compared to SEV + PCA (10 mg/kg) group. MDA, ROS and SOD levels were noted to decrease significantly only in the SEV + PCA group (20 mg/kg) while IL-1β levels decreased in both SEV + PCA groups (10 or 20 mg/kg) respectively.


Our findings imply that apoptosis, inflammation, and oxidative stress in the hippocampal region of neonatal mouse brain were significantly reduced by pre-treatment with PCA before sevoflurane exposure. Therefore, suggesting a role for PCA as a novel therapeutic agent in the treatment of sevoflurane anesthesia-induced neurobehavioral dysfunction.

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