Mounting evidence has demonstrated that general anesthetics could induce acute neuroapoptosis in developing animals followed by long-term cognitive dysfunction, with the mechanisms remaining largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the intravenous anesthetic propofol on the profiles of microRNAs (miRNAs) and messenger RNAs (mRNAs), and their interactive signaling networks in the developing mouse hippocampus. Postnatal day 7 (P7) mice were exposed to propofol for 3 hours. Hippocampi were harvested from both P7 (3 hours after exposure) and P60 mice for the analysis of the expression of 726 miRNAs and 24,881 mRNAs, and apoptosis. Long-term memory ability of P60 mice was analyzed using the Morris Water Maze. Propofol induced acute apoptosis in the hippocampus, and impaired memory function of mice. There were 100 altered mRNAs and 18 dysregulated miRNAs in the propofol-treated hippocampi compared with the intralipid-treated control tissues on P7. Bioinformatics analysis of these abnormally expressed genes on P7 indicated that 34 dysregulated miRNA-mRNA target pairs were related to pathological neurological and developmental disorder processes such as cell viability, cell morphology and migration, neural stem cell proliferation and neurogenesis, oligodendrocyte myelination, reactive oxygen species, and calcium signaling. Neonatal propofol exposure also resulted in the abnormal expression of 49 mRNAs and 4 miRNAs in P60 mouse hippocampi. Specifically, bioinformatics analysis indicates that among these dysregulated mRNAs and miRNAs, there were 2 dysregulated miRNA-mRNA targets pairs (Fam46a/miR-363-3p and Rgs3/miR-363-3p) that might be related to the effect of propofol on long-term cognitive function. Collectively, our novel investigation indicates that acute and long-term dysregulated miRNA-mRNA signaling networks potentially participate in propofol-induced developmental neurotoxicity.

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