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Stem Cells International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6158468, 11 pages
Research Article

Maternal Sevoflurane Exposure Causes Abnormal Development of Fetal Prefrontal Cortex and Induces Cognitive Dysfunction in Offspring

Department of Anesthesiology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, 180 Fenglin Rd, Shanghai 200032, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Jing Cang and Fang Fang

Received 14 May 2017; Revised 12 August 2017; Accepted 22 August 2017; Published 25 September 2017

Academic Editor: Yao Li

Copyright © 2017 Ruixue Song et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Maternal sevoflurane exposure during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for behavioral deficits in offspring. Several studies indicated that neurogenesis abnormality may be responsible for the sevoflurane-induced neurotoxicity, but the concrete impact of sevoflurane on fetal brain development remains poorly understood. We aimed to investigate whether maternal sevoflurane exposure caused learning and memory impairment in offspring through inducing abnormal development of the fetal prefrontal cortex (PFC). Pregnant mice at gestational day 15.5 received 2.5% sevoflurane for 6 h. Learning function of the offspring was evaluated with the Morris water maze test at postnatal day 30. Brain tissues of fetal mice were subjected to immunofluorescence staining to assess differentiation, proliferation, and cell cycle dynamics of the fetal PFC. We found that maternal sevoflurane anesthesia impaired learning ability in offspring through inhibiting deep-layer immature neuron output and neuronal progenitor replication. With the assessment of cell cycle dynamics, we established that these effects were mediated through cell cycle arrest in neural progenitors. Our research has provided insights into the cell cycle-related mechanisms by which maternal sevoflurane exposure can induce neurodevelopmental abnormalities and learning dysfunction and appeals people to consider the neurotoxicity of anesthetics when considering the benefits and risks of nonobstetric surgical procedures.