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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jul 6;276(27):24959-64. Epub 2001 May 9.

Antagonism of inhalant and volatile anesthetic enhancement of glycine receptor function.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Recent studies suggest that alcohols, volatile anesthetics, and inhaled drugs of abuse, which enhance gamma-aminobutyric acid, type A, and glycine receptor-activated ion channel function, may share common or overlapping molecular sites of action on these receptors. To investigate this possibility, these compounds were applied singly and in combination to wild-type glycine alpha(1) receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Data obtained from concentration-response curves of the volatile anesthetic enflurane constructed in the presence and absence of ethanol, chloroform, or toluene were consistent with competition for a common binding pocket on these receptors. A mutant glycine receptor, insensitive to the enhancing effects of ethanol but not anesthetics or inhalants, demonstrated antagonism of anesthetic and inhalant effects on this receptor. Although ethanol (25-200 mm) had no effect on its own in this receptor, it was able to inhibit reversibly the enhancing effect of enflurane, toluene, and chloroform in a concentration-dependent manner. These data suggest the existence of overlapping molecular sites of action for ethanol, inhalants, and volatile anesthetics on glycine receptors and illustrate the feasibility of pharmacological antagonism of the effects of volatile anesthetics.

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