We tested the hypothesis that developmental effects of repeated neonatal exposure to sevoflurane in rats are exacerbated by stressful experiences received later in life.
Sprague-Dawley male rats received sequential exposures to 3% sevoflurane for two h on postnatal days (P) six, seven, and eight. After weaning at P21, rats were housed either in pairs in an enriched environment (EE) or singly in an enrichment-deprived environment (an adverse environment, AE). The hippocampal concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and synaptic markers were assessed at P8 and P53. The dentate gyrus neural progenitor proliferation was evaluated at P11 and P53 after administration of bromodeoyuridine (BrdU) at P8 to P10 and at P22 to P27, respectively. Neurobehavioural evaluations were performed at P49 to P53.
Repeated sevoflurane exposure acutely reduced concentrations of BDNF, synaptic markers and neural progenitor proliferation. The sevoflurane group housed in the AE conditions (sevoflurane+AE) had decreased concentrations of BDNF and synaptic markers, and survival of new granule cells and impaired cognitive function compared with the control+AE, control+EE, and sevoflurane+EE groups. The neurobehavioural parameters in the sevoflurane+EE and control+EE groups were similar.
Neurocognitive abnormalities induced by repeated neonatal exposure to sevoflurane can be aggravated by stressful conditions such as social isolation and enrichment deprivation.