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Anesthesiology. 2012 May;116(5):1057-65. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e3182515403.

Electroencephalographic recovery, hypnotic emergence, and the effects of metabolite after continuous infusions of a rapidly metabolized etomidate analog in rats.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Methoxycarbonyl etomidate is an ultrarapidly metabolized etomidate analog. It is metabolized to methoxycarbonyl etomidate carboxylic acid (MOC-ECA), which has a hypnotic potency that is 350-fold less than that of methoxycarbonyl etomidate. The authors explored the relationships between methoxycarbonyl etomidate infusion duration, recovery time, metabolite concentrations in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and methoxycarbonyl etomidate metabolism in brain tissue and CSF to test the hypothesis that rapid metabolism of methoxycarbonyl etomidate may lead to sufficient accumulation of MOC-ECA in the brain to produce a pharmacologic effect.


A closed-loop system with burst suppression ratio feedback was used to administer methoxycarbonyl etomidate infusions of varying durations to rats. After infusion, recovery of the electroencephalogram and righting reflexes were assessed. MOC-ECA concentrations were measured in blood and CSF during and after methoxycarbonyl etomidate infusion, and the in vitro half-life of methoxycarbonyl etomidate was determined in rat brain tissue and CSF.


Upon termination of continuous methoxycarbonyl etomidate infusions, the burst suppression ratio recovered in a biexponential manner with fast and slow components having time constants that differed by more than 100-fold and amplitudes that varied inversely with infusion duration. MOC-ECA concentrations reached hypnotic concentrations in the CSF with prolonged methoxycarbonyl etomidate infusion and then decreased during a period of several hours after infusion termination. The metabolic half-life of methoxycarbonyl etomidate in brain tissue and CSF was 11 and 20 min, respectively.


In rats, methoxycarbonyl etomidate metabolism is sufficiently fast to produce pharmacologically active MOC-ECA concentrations in the brain with prolonged methoxycarbonyl etomidate infusion.

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