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Anesthesiology. 1986 Jun;64(6):694-702.

Actions of general anesthetics on acetylcholine receptor-rich membranes from Torpedo californica.


The molecular mechanisms by which general anesthetics act on postsynaptic membranes can only be worked out in a highly purified, homogeneous system. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-rich membranes from the electric tissue of Torpedo californica are currently the only postsynaptic membranes that fulfill this condition. Is this peripheral synapse acted on with a pharmacologic specificity similar to that for general anesthesia, and how much less sensitive is it to anesthetic action than the unknown central site? To answer these questions, the authors studied the effects of 13 anesthetic compounds, including volatile general anesthetics, alkanols, and urethane, on the equilibrium binding of 3H-acetylcholine to these nicotinic receptors. As the anesthetic concentration was raised, all the agents first increased acetylcholine binding steeply and then, with few exceptions, decreased it again at higher concentrations. Anesthetics increased acetylcholine binding by decreasing acetylcholine's dissociation constant without changing the Hill coefficient or the number of sites. To a first approximation, the relative ability of these agents to increase 3H-acetylcholine binding parallels that of anesthesia in vivo as predicted by the Meyer-Overton lipid solubility rule. On average, they produced half maximal increases in acetylcholine binding (EC50) at about four times the concentration that causes loss of righting reflex in one-half of a group of animals (ED50). However, a few agents deviated from this relationship. They were the agents with greatest general anesthetic potency in both the volatile anesthetic series (thiomethoxyflurane) and the normal alcohol series (octanol), and required up to 17 times their ED50s to achieve a half effect on acetylcholine binding. Although the concentrations required were high, these effects were reversible.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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