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Br J Pharmacol. 1995 May;115(2):275-82.

Actions of general anaesthetics on a neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in isolated identified neurones of Lymnaea stagnalis.

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  • 1Biophysics Section, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, South Kensington, London.


1. Completely isolated identified neurones from the right parietal ganglion of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis were studied under two-electrode voltage-clamp. Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor currents were studied at low acetylcholine (ACh) concentrations (< or = 200 nM). At these levels, control currents were non-desensitizing and proportional to the square of the ACh concentration. 2. IC50 concentrations were determined for the steady-state inhibition of the ACh-activated current by 31 general anaesthetics plus the non-anaesthetic alcohol n-tridecanol. The general anaesthetics included inhalational agents, n-alcohols, n-alkane-(alpha,omega)-diols, cycloalcohols and an n-alkane. 3. Anaesthetic inhibition was independent of voltage and consistent with two anaesthetic-binding sites on the receptor. 4. IC50 concentrations for inhibiting the neuronal nicotinic ACh receptor correlated well (r = 0.97) with EC50 concentrations for general anaesthesia. The maximum deviation from the line of identity was less than fourfold. The inhalational agents tended to be more potent as inhibitors of the ACh receptor than as general anaesthetics, while the alcohols and diols were less potent. 5. The inhibition of the ACh-induced current by the homologous series of n-alcohols exhibited a cutoff at the same position (just after dodecanol) as found for the induction of general anaesthesia in tadpoles. 6. Polarity profile maps of the anaesthetic-binding sites on the neuronal nicotinic ACh receptor were calculated from IC50 concentrations for the homologous series of n-alcohols and n-alkane-(alpha,omega)-diols. They reveal amphiphilic sites with apolar regions capable of accommodating the hydrocarbon chains of n-alcohols as large as decanol. A striking resemblance was found to profiles previously calculated from data for tadpole general anaesthesia.

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