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Brain Res. 1992 Mar 27;576(1):97-103.

Halothane-induced hyperpolarization and depression of postsynaptic potentials of guinea pig thalamic neurons in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Kurume University School of Medicine, Japan.


Intralaminar thalamic nuclei have been considered to be a component of the non-specific sensory system which is involved in physiological functions related to consciousness and pain sensation. The effect of halothane on membrane potentials and synaptic properties of neurons of the parafascicular (Pf) nucleus in guinea pig brain slices was investigated using intracellular recording methods. Halothane at concentrations of 0.4-1.0 mM, which are in the range of clinical concentrations, produced hyperpolarizations of 2-8 mV in approximately 50% of the cells. The halothane-induced hyperpolarization was nullified at a membrane potential close to the K+ equilibrium potential. The amplitude of the hyperpolarization was dependent on the external K+ concentration, and was decreased by either Ba2+, or 4-aminopyridine, or intracellular injection of Cs+. All these results indicate that the hyperpolarization was due to an increase in K+ conductance. Halothane at clinical concentrations depressed both excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in a concentration-dependent manner. On the other hand hyperpolarizing responses to exogenous gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the presence of bicuculline were suppressed by halothane, but depolarizing responses to L-glutamate were not altered. The results indicate that the depressant action of the anesthetic on the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) may occur presynaptically, whereas the blocking action on the inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP) may occur postsynaptically.

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