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Anesth Analg. 1999 Jun;88(6):1395-400.

Hypothesis: volatile anesthetics produce immobility by acting on two sites approximately five carbon atoms apart.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0464, USA. edmond_eger@quickmail.ucsf.edu

Abstract

All series of volatile and gaseous compounds contain members that can produce anesthesia, as defined by the minimum alveolar anesthetic concentration (MAC) required to produce immobility in response to a noxious stimulus. For unhalogenated n-alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatic compounds, and n-alkanols, potency (1 MAC) increases by two-to threefold with each carbon addition in the series (e.g., ethanol is twice as potent as methanol). Total fluorination (perfluorination) of n-alkanes essentially eliminates anesthetic potency: only CF4 is anesthetic (MAC = 66.5 atm), which indicates that fluorine atoms do not directly influence sites of anesthetic action. Fluorine may enhance the anesthetic action of other moieties, such as the hydrogen atom in CHF3 (MAC = 1.60 atm), but, consistent with the notion that the fluorine atoms do not directly influence sites of anesthetic action, adding -(CF2)n moieties does not further increase potency (e.g., CHF2-CF3 MAC = 1.51 atm). Similarly, adding -(CF2)n moieties to perfluorinated alkanols (CH2OH-[CF2]nF) does not increase potency. However, adding a second terminal hydrogen atom (e.g., CHF2-CHF2 or CH2OH-CHF2) produces series in which the addition of each -CF2- "spacer" in the middle of the molecule increases potency two- to threefold, as in each unhalogenated series. This parallel stops at four or five carbon atom chain lengths. Further increases in chain length (i.e., to CHF2[CF2]4CHF2 or CHF2[CF2]5CH2OH) decrease or abolish potency (i.e., a discontinuity arises). This leads to our hypothesis that the anesthetic moieties (-CHF2 and -CH2OH) interact with two distinct, spatially separate, sites. Both sites must be influenced concurrently to produce a maximal anesthetic (immobility) effect. We propose that the maximal potency (i.e., for CHF2[CF2]2CHF2 and CHF2[CF2]3CH2OH) results when the spacing between the anesthetic moieties most closely matches the distance between the two sites of action. This reasoning suggests that a distance equivalent to a four or five carbon atom chain, approximately 5 A, separates the two sites.

IMPLICATIONS:

Volatile anesthetics may produce immobility by a concurrent action on two sites five carbon atom lengths apart.

PMID:
10357351
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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