Background: With growing evidence that anesthesia exposure in infancy affects cognitive development, it is important to understand how distinct anesthetic agents and combinations can alter long-term memory. Investigations of neuronal death suggest that combining anesthetic agents increases the extent of neuronal injury. However, it is unclear how the use of simultaneously combined anesthetics affects cognitive outcome relative to the use of a single agent. Methods: Postnatal day 7 (P7) male rats were administered either sevoflurane as a single agent or the combined delivery of sevoflurane with nitrous oxide at 1 Minimum Alveolar Concentration for 4. h. Behavior was assessed in adulthood using the forced alternating T-maze, social recognition, and context-specific object recognition tasks. Results: Animals exposed to either anesthetic were unimpaired in the forced alternating T-maze test and had intact social recognition. Subjects treated with the combined anesthetic displayed a deficit, however, in the object recognition task, while those treated with sevoflurane alone were unaffected. Conclusion: A combined sevoflurane and nitrous oxide anesthetic led to a distinct behavioral outcome compared with sevoflurane alone, suggesting that the simultaneous use of multiple agents may uniquely influence early neural and cognitive development and potentially impacts associative memory. © 2014.
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