Exposure to general anesthesia (GA) during the postnatal period is associated with neuroinflammation and long-term neurocognitive impairment in preclinical and clinical settings. Pyroptosis is a novel type of programmed cell death that, along with inflammation, has been found to play an important role in the mechanism of diverse neurological diseases. However, its roles in GA-induced neuroinflammation and neurocognitive impairment in the developing brain have not been investigated.
Rats at postnatal day 6 or primary hippocampal neurons at 9 days in vitro received 3% sevoflurane for 2 h daily for three consecutive days. A pharmacological inhibitor of nuclear factor (NF)-κB (BAY 11-7082) was administered to suppress NF-κB activation. Histological and biochemical analyses were performed to assess the pyroptosis as well as neuronal and synaptic damage both in vivo and in vitro. In addition, behavioral tests were performed to evaluate neurocognitive ability in rats.
Repeated sevoflurane exposure activated NF-κB-mediated pyroptosis and neuroinflammation in the hippocampus in developing rats, damaged the neuronal morphology and synaptic integrity, and induced neurocognitive impairment in rats. BAY 11-7082 treatment suppressed the activation of pyroptosis, attenuated the neuronal and synaptic damage, and ameliorated the neurocognitive impairment induced by repeated sevoflurane administration to developing rats.
Repeated sevoflurane GA may induce neuroinflammation and neurocognitive impairment in developing rats via the activation of NF-κB-mediated pyroptosis. Our findings characterize a novel role of pyroptosis as a potential therapeutic target in neuroinflammation after repeated neonatal GA.