Mid-gestational sevoflurane exposure inhibits fetal neural stem cell proliferation and impairs postnatal learning and memory function in a dose-dependent manner.Dev Biol. 2018 03 15; 435(2):185-197.DB
Advancements in fetal intervention procedures have led to increases in the number of pregnant women undergoing general anesthesia during the second trimester-a period characterized by extensive proliferation of fetal neural stem cells (NSCs). However, few studies have investigated the effects of mid-gestational sevoflurane exposure on fetal NSC proliferation or postnatal learning and memory function. In the present study, pregnant rats were randomly assigned to a control group (C group), a low sevoflurane concentration group (2%; L group), a high sevoflurane concentration group (3.5%; H group), a high sevoflurane concentration plus lithium chloride group (H + Li group), and a lithium chloride group (Li group) at gestational day 14. Rats received different concentrations of sevoflurane anesthesia for 2 h. The offspring rats were weaned at 28 days for behavioral testing (i.e., Morris Water Maze [MWM]), and fetal brains or postnatal hippocampal tissues were harvested for immunofluorescence staining, real-time PCR, and Western blotting analyses in order to determine the effect of sevoflurane exposure on NSC proliferation and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Our results indicated that maternal exposure to 3.5% sevoflurane (H group) during the mid-gestational period impaired the performance of offspring rats in the MWM test, reduced NSC proliferation, and increased protein levels of fetal glycogen synthase kinase-3 beta (GSK-3β). Such treatment also decreased levels of β-catenin protein, CD44 RNA, and Cyclin D1 RNA relative to those observed in the C group. However, these effects were transiently attenuated by treatment with lithium chloride. Conversely, maternal exposure to 2% sevoflurane (L group) did not influence NSC proliferation or the Wnt signaling pathway. Our results suggest that sevoflurane exposure during the second trimester inhibits fetal NSC proliferation via the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and impairs postnatal learning and memory function in a dose-dependent manner.