Adverse effects related to central nervous system (CNS) function in pediatric populations may, at times, be difficult, if not impossible to evaluate. Prolonged anesthetic exposure affects brain excitability and anesthesia during the most sensitive developmental stages and has been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, aberrant lipid metabolism and synaptogenesis, subsequent neuronal damage, as well as long-term behavioral deficits. There has been limited research evaluating whether and how anesthetic agents affect cellular lipids, the most abundant components of the brain other than water. Therefore, this review discusses: (1) whether the observed anesthetic-induced changes in lipid profiles seen in preclinical studies represents early signs of neurotoxicity; (2) the potential mechanisms underlying anesthetic-induced brain injury; and (3) whether lipid biomarker(s) identified in preclinical studies can serve as markers for the early clinical detection of anesthetic-induced neurotoxicity.
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