Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research

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Propofol causes neuronal degeneration in neonatal mice and long-term neurocognitive consequences in adult mice

Pei-Xing Li, Feng Ru, Yan-Min Lu, Lei Zhang


Purpose: To investigate the effect of propofol on brain development in neonatal mice and long-term neurocognitive impact in adult mice.

Method: The offspring of female C57Bl/6 and male CD-1 mice were administered propofol at concentrations of 2.5 and 5.0 mg/kg (treatment group) or normal saline (control) on postnatal day 7. Thereafter, histological and immunohistochemical examinations were performed on the mice brain. Apoptotic assay, neuronal nuclei antigen immunohistochemistry (to assess neuron density), and behavioral and neurocognitive tests were conducted on the adult mice.

Results: Propofol induced cellular degeneration and apoptosis in the brains of neonatal mice. It also modulated physiological parameters (pH, PO2, glucose and lactate), among which decreased blood glucose might be associated with cellular degeneration in the brain. Propofol also caused long-term neuronal deficits in adults, which showed impaired neurocognitive functions. Upon reaching adulthood, propofol-treated mice showed slow learning response and poor memory compared to controls.

Conclusion: Propofol causes neurodegeneration in neonatal mice and has long-term neurocognitive consequences in adults, indicating that the use of propofol anesthetics in neonates requires careful consideration.

Keywords: Anesthesia, Apoptosis, Brain injury, Neonate, Neurodegeneration, Propofol
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