Exposure to general anesthetic agents during development has been associated with neurotoxicity and long-term behavioral impairments in rodents and non-human primates. The phenotype of anesthetic-induced cognitive impairment has a robust learning and memory component, however less is known about other psychological domains. Data from retrospective human patient studies suggest that children undergoing multiple procedures requiring general anesthesia are at increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. We therefore assessed whether single or repeated exposures of neonatal rats to general anesthesia caused long-term attentional impairments. Female or male Long-Evans pups were exposed to 2.5% sevoflurane for 2h on postnatal day (P) 7, or for 2h each on P7, P10 and P13. Rats were behaviorally tested in late adolescence on the sustained attention task and on the attentional set shifting task. There was no compelling evidence for anesthetic-induced impairment in attentional processing in adult rats exposed to general anesthesia as neonates. These results suggest that, at least at the developmental stage tested here, the phenotype of anesthetic-induced cognitive impairment does not involve disruptions to attentional processing.
Keywords: Attention; Pediatric anesthetic neurotoxicity; Rat; Sevoflurane.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Inc.