General anesthetic agents induce neurotoxicity through astrocytes

Yanchang Yang, Tiantian Liu, Jun Li, Dandan Yan, Yuhan Hu, Pin Wu, Fuquan Fang, Patrick M. McQuillan, Wenxin Hang, Jianhang Leng, Zhiyong Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neuroscientists have recognized the importance of astrocytes in regulating neurological function and their influence on the release of glial transmitters. Few studies, however, have focused on the effects of general anesthetic agents on neuroglia or astrocytes. Astrocytes can also be an important target of general anesthetic agents as they exert not only sedative, analgesic, and amnesic effects but also mediate general anesthetic-induced neurotoxicity and postoperative cognitive dysfunction. Here, we analyzed recent advances in understanding the mechanism of general anesthetic agents on astrocytes, and found that exposure to general anesthetic agents will destroy the morphology and proliferation of astrocytes, in addition to acting on the receptors on their surface, which not only affect Ca2+ signaling, inhibit the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and lactate from astrocytes, but are even involved in the regulation of the pro- and anti-inflammatory processes of astrocytes. These would obviously affect the communication between astrocytes as well as between astrocytes and neighboring neurons, other neuroglia, and vascular cells. In this review, we summarize how general anesthetic agents act on neurons via astrocytes, and explore potential mechanisms of action of general anesthetic agents on the nervous system. We hope that this review will provide a new direction for mitigating the neurotoxicity of general anesthetic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1307
Number of pages9
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Neuroscience

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