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Neuroinflammation may be behind general-anesthesia-associated learning disabilities
Date:1/24/2013

showed elevated levels of several markers of inflammation.

Mice that received only one dose of sevoflurane showed neither neuroinflammation nor cognitive impairment compared with the control group. No adverse effects were seen in either adult mice that received three doses of sevoflurane or in young mice that received three doses of desflurane, another commonly used anesthetic. Two strategies preanesthesia treatment with an anti-inflammatory drug and placing the young animals in an enriched environment cages that featured ladders, wheels and mazes each appeared to reduce the negative effects of three doses of sevoflurane.

The second study co-led by Hui Zheng, MD, PhD, of MGH Anesthesia and Dong exposed a group of pregnant female mice to a single two-hour dose of sevoflurane when two-thirds through the gestation period. In assessments conducted 30 days after the females gave birth, offspring of those that received sevoflurane showed evidence of impaired learning and memory, compared with a control group. In addition, analysis of the brain tissue of fetal mice, taken right after the pregnant mice received the sevoflurane dose, and of month-old offspring showed elevated inflammatory markers and other signs of neurotoxicity including a reduction in the number of brain synapses compared with control offspring. As in the first study, placing a group of anesthesia-exposed pregnant mice and then their offspring into an enriched environment appeared to reduce both the neuroinflammatory and behavioral effects on the offspring of prenatal exposure to sevoflurane.

"Six million children undergo surgery each year in the U.S., and the possibility that anesthesia and surgery could increase the risk for learning disabilities is a major concern for both the medical community and the general public," says Xie, an associate professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. "We hope our findings will promote more research into anesthesia neuro
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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