Background: In neonatal mice, anesthesia with sevoflurane depolarizes the GABA Type A receptor (GABAAR), which leads to cognitive impairment. Calcium accumulation in neurons can lead to neurotoxicity. Voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) can increase intracellular calcium concentration under isoflurane and hypoxic conditions. The underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown.

Methods: Six-day-old mice were anesthetized with 3% sevoflurane for 2 h/day for 3 days. The Y-Maze, new object recognition (NOR) test, the Barnes maze test, immunoassay, immunoblotting, the TUNEL test, and Golgi-Cox staining were used to assess cognition, calcium concentration, inflammatory response, GABAAR activation, VGCC expression, apoptosis, and proliferation of hippocampal nerve cells in mice and HT22 cells.

Results: Compared with the control group, mice in the sevoflurane group had impaired cognitive function. In the sevoflurane group, the expression of Gabrb3 and Cav1.2 in the hippocampal neurons increased (p < 0.01), the concentration of calcium ions increased (p < 0.01), inflammatory reaction and apoptosis of neurons increased (p < 0.01), the proliferation of neurons in the DG area decreased (p < 0.01), and dendritic spine density decreased (p < 0.05). However, the inhibition of Gabrb3 and Cav1.2 alleviated cognitive impairment and reduced neurotoxicity.

Conclusions: Sevoflurane activates VGCCs by inducing GABAAR depolarization, resulting in cognitive impairment. Activated VGCCs cause an increase in intracellular calcium concentration and an inflammatory response, resulting in neurotoxicity and cognitive impairment.

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Shuang Zeng et al.
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience September 2022