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Anesthesiology. 2006 Aug;105(2):313-24.

Differential effects of volatile anesthetics on M3 muscarinic receptor coupling to the Galphaq heterotrimeric G protein.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Halothane inhibits airway smooth muscle contraction in part by inhibiting the functional coupling between muscarinic receptors and one of its cognate heterotrimeric G proteins, Galphaq. Based on previous studies indicating a more potent effect of halothane and sevoflurane on airway smooth muscle contraction compared with isoflurane, the current study hypothesized that at anesthetic concentrations of 2 minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) or less, halothane and sevoflurane but not isoflurane inhibit acetylcholine-promoted Galphaq guanosine nucleotide exchange.


Galphaq guanosine nucleotide exchange was measured in crude membranes prepared from COS-7 cells transiently coexpressing the human M3 muscarinic receptor and human Galphaq. A radioactive, nonhydrolyzable analog of guanosine-5'-triphosphate, [35S]GTPgammaS, was used as a reporter for nucleotide exchange at Galphaq.


Acetylcholine caused a concentration-dependent increase in Galphaq [35S]GTPgammaS-GDP exchange. Neither anesthetic affected constitutive Galphaq [35S]GTPgammaS-GDP exchange in the absence of acetylcholine. Conversely, each anesthetic caused a concentration-dependent and reversible inhibition of Galphaq [35S]GTPgammaS-GDP exchange when promoted by acetylcholine. At concentrations of 3 MAC or less, the effect of halothane and sevoflurane were significantly greater than that of isoflurane, with only a minimal inhibition by isoflurane observed at 2 MAC.


The differential effects of volatile anesthetics on acetylcholine-promoted guanosine nucleotide exchange at Galphaq are consistent with the apparent more potent direct effect of halothane and sevoflurane compared with isoflurane on muscarinic receptor-mediated contraction of isolated airway smooth muscle. These differential effects also suggest a mode of anesthetic action that could be due to anesthetic-protein interactions and not simply anesthetic accumulation in the lipid membrane.

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