Administration of N2O + ISO appears to have negative effect on fetal development

Published on December 14, 2012 at 4:33 AM · No Comments

An anesthetic regimen typically used during surgery on pregnant mothers appears to have a negative effect on the development of the fetus, according to a new study on mice conducted by neurobiologists from the National Center for Toxicological Research, in Arizona.

In the article 'Inhalation Anesthesia-Induced Neuronal Damage and Gene Expression Changes in Developing Rat Brain' published earlier this month in Systems Pharmacology, an open access journal by Versita - Dr. Fang Liu and Dr. Cheng Wang describe the effect of major, commonly used anesthetic compounds - Nitrous Oxide (N2O), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, and isoflurane (ISO) on the developing brain of post-natal rats. Looking into the mechanisms through which N2O + ISO cause neurotoxicity in the developing brain, the authors suggest multiple factors are involved in neuronal cell death inducing effects (cascades) of N2O + ISO.

As with any medical intervention performed during pregnancy, expectant mothers are concerned about the possibility of undergoing surgery or other medical procedures that require anesthesia and may be harmful to both the woman and her baby. Understandably, there is concern for the development of the fetus, but also for the immediate health of the mother and possible preterm labor. Until recently most studies of documented use have admittedly shown that inhaled anesthetics pose no risks for pregnant women.

Contrary to previous research findings, it has now emerged that the combination of N2O + ISO can change the gene expression of brain tissues and may be related to the elevated neuronal cell death as indicated by an increased number of apoptotic cells in frontal cortical levels compared with the control. The researchers came to this novel conclusion owing to the use of microarray data and cell analysis. They demonstrated that the combination of N2O + ISO induces a significant change in gene expression and cell death of neuronal tissues in post-natal rats. The brain tissue of post-natal rats seems to be more sensitive to N2O + ISO when compared to adult brains tissues.

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