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Eur J Pharmacol. 1994 May 17;267(3):269-74.

Volatile anesthetics bidirectionally and stereospecifically modulate ligand binding to GABA receptors.

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Laboratory of Neuroscience, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


Pharmacologically relevant concentrations of volatile anesthetics can bidirectionally modulate radioligand binding to GABAA receptors. In mouse cerebral cortex, halothane (a prototypic volatile anesthetic) increased [3H]muscimol (a GABA receptor agonist) binding while inhibiting the binding of a GABA receptor antagonist ([3H]SR 95531). These bidirectional effects of inhalational anesthetics on ligand binding to GABA receptors are effected through changes in the Bmax with no significant alterations in the KD of these radioligands. Moreover, the concentration dependent, bidirectional modulation of radioligand binding to GABA receptors by volatile anesthetics exhibited stereoselectivity. Thus, (+)-isoflurane was about twice as potent as the (-)-enantiomer in enhancing [3H]muscimol binding and approximately 50% more potent as an inhibitor of [3H]SR 95531 binding, respectively. The demonstration of a bidirectional, stereospecific modulation of radioligand binding to GABA receptors by inhalational agents is consistent with the presence of specific recognition sites for inhalational anesthetics on the GABAA receptor complex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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