General anesthetics (eg, propofol and volatile anesthetics) enhance the slow-delta oscillations of the cortical electroencephalogram (EEG), which partly results from the enhancement of (γ-aminobutyric acid [GABA]) γ-aminobutyric acid-ergic (GABAergic) transmission. There is a GABAergic excitatory-inhibitory shift during postnatal development. Whether general anesthetics can enhance slow-delta oscillations in the immature brain has not yet been unequivocally determined.
Perforated patch-clamp recording was used to confirm the reversal potential of GABAergic currents throughout GABAergic development in acute brain slices of neonatal rats. The power density of the electrocorticogram and the minimum alveolar concentrations (MAC) of isoflurane and/or sevoflurane were measured in P4–P21 rats. Then, the effects of bumetanide, an inhibitor of the Na+-K+-2Cl− cotransporter (NKCC1) and K+-Cl− cotransporter (KCC2) knockdown on the potency of volatile anesthetics and the power density of the EEG were determined in vivo.
Reversal potential of GABAergic currents were gradually hyperpolarized from P4 to P21 in cortical pyramidal neurons. Bumetanide enhanced the hypnotic effects of volatile anesthetics at P5 (for MACLORR, isoflurane: 0.63% ± 0.07% vs 0.81% ± 0.05%, 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.257 to −0.103, P < .001; sevoflurane: 1.46% ± 0.12% vs 1.66% ± 0.09%, 95% CI, −0.319 to −0.081, P < .001); while knockdown of KCC2 weakened their hypnotic effects at P21 in rats (for MACLORR, isoflurane: 0.58% ± 0.05% to 0.77% ± 0.20%, 95% CI, 0.013–0.357, P = .003; sevoflurane: 1.17% ± 0.04% to 1.33% ± 0.04%, 95% CI, 0.078–0.244, P < .001). For cortical EEG, slow-delta oscillations were the predominant components of the EEG spectrum in neonatal rats. Isoflurane and/or sevoflurane suppressed the power density of slow-delta oscillations rather than enhancement of it until GABAergic maturity. Enhancement of slow-delta oscillations under volatile anesthetics was simulated by preinjection of bumetanide at P5 (isoflurane: slow-delta changed ratio from −0.31 ± 0.22 to 1.57 ± 1.15, 95% CI, 0.67–3.08, P = .007; sevoflurane: slow-delta changed ratio from −0.46 ± 0.25 to 0.95 ± 0.97, 95% CI, 0.38–2.45, P = .014); and suppressed by KCC2-siRNA at P21 (isoflurane: slow-delta changed ratio from 16.13 ± 5.69 to 3.98 ± 2.35, 95% CI, −18.50 to −5.80, P = .002; sevoflurane: slow-delta changed ratio from 0.13 ± 2.82 to 3.23 ± 2.49, 95% CI, 3.02–10.79, P = .003).
Enhancement of cortical EEG slow-delta oscillations by volatile anesthetics may require mature GABAergic inhibitory transmission during neonatal development.