Boscolo A, Starr JA, Sanchez V, Lunardi N, Digruccio MR, Ori C, Erisir A, Trimmer P, Bennett J, Jevtovic-Todorovic V.
Neurobiology of Disease. 2011 Dec 14. [Epub ahead of print]


Early exposure to general anesthesia (GA) causes developmental neuroapoptosis in the mammalian brain and long-term cognitive impairment. Recent evidence suggests that GA also causes functional and morphological impairment of the immature neuronal mitochondria. Injured mitochondria could be a significant source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which, if not scavenged in timely fashion, may cause excessive lipid peroxidation and damage of cellular membranes. We examined whether early exposure to GA results in ROS upregulation and whether mitochondrial protection and ROS scavenging prevent GA-induced pathomorphological and behavioral impairments. We exposed 7-day-old rats to GA with or without either EUK-134, a synthetic ROS scavenger, or R(+) pramipexole (PPX), a synthetic aminobenzothiazol derivative that restores mitochondrial integrity. We found that GA causes extensive ROS upregulation and lipid peroxidation, as well as mitochondrial injury and neuronal loss in the subiculum. As compared to rats given only GA, those also given PPX or EUK-134 had significantly downregulated lipid peroxidation, preserved mitochondrial integrity, and significantly less neuronal loss. The subiculum is highly intertwined with the hippocampal CA1 region, anterior thalamic nuclei, and both entorhinal and cingulate cortices; hence, it is important in cognitive development. We found that PPX or EUK-134 co-treatment completely prevented GA-induced cognitive impairment. Because mitochondria are vulnerable to GA-induced developmental neurotoxicity, they could be an important therapeutic target for adjuvant therapy aimed at improving the safety of commonly used GAs.

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