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Mol Pharmacol. 1993 Sep;44(3):628-32.

Positive modulation of human gamma-aminobutyric acid type A and glycine receptors by the inhalation anesthetic isoflurane.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.


The interactions of the inhalation anesthetic agent isoflurane with ligand-gated chloride channels were studied using transient expression of recombinant human receptors in a mammalian cell line. Isoflurane enhanced gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-activated chloride currents in cells that expressed heteromeric GABAA receptors consisting of combinations of alpha 1 or alpha 2, beta 1, and gamma 2 subunits and in cells that expressed receptors consisting of combinations of only alpha and beta subunits. Receptors consisting of alpha 2 and gamma 2 subunits were poorly expressed but were sensitive to isoflurane. Receptors consisting of beta 1 and gamma 2 subunits were not expressed. Isoflurane also enhanced glycine-activated chloride currents through homomeric alpha glycine receptors but did not enhance GABA currents in cells expressing homomeric rho 1 receptors. These results show that not all ligand-gated chloride channel receptors are sensitive to isoflurane and, therefore, that the anesthetic interacts with specific structural determinants of these ion channel proteins.

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