In utero, exposure to sevoflurane (a commonly used inhalation anesthetic) can lead to hearing impairment in offspring mice, but the underlying impairment mechanism is not known.
Day-15 pregnant mice were treated with 2.5% sevoflurane for 2 h to investigate sevoflurane ototoxicity. Cochleae from offspring mice were harvested for hair-cell and ribbon-synapse assessments. Hearing in offspring mice was assessed at postnatal day 30 using an auditory brainstem-response (ABR) test. Cochlear-explant cultures from offspring mice were exposed to 2.5% sevoflurane for 6 h. Immediately after treatment, explants were assessed for hair-cell morphology, mitochondrial oxidative stress, and autophagy.
In utero, sevoflurane exposure impaired hearing in the offspring is demonstrated by a decrease in ABR wave I amplitudes, a marker for ribbon-synapse functionality. Sevoflurane exposure caused no obvious damage to hair cells, but cochlear ribbon synapses were reduced in postnatal day 15 offspring, and partially recovered by postnatal day 30. Sevoflurane treatment also increased mitochondrial reactive-oxygen species stress and decreased autophagy in the cochlear explants.