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Anesthesiology. 1997 Feb;86(2):428-39.

Effects of propofol on sodium channel-dependent sodium influx and glutamate release in rat cerebrocortical synaptosomes.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Previous electrophysiologic studies have implicated voltage-dependent Na+ channels as a molecular site of action for propofol. This study considered the effects of propofol on Na+ channel-mediated Na+ influx and neurotransmitter release in rat brain synaptosomes (isolated presynaptic nerve terminals).


Purified cerebrocortical synaptosomes from adult rats were used to determine the effects of propofol on Na+ influx through voltage-dependent Na+ channels (measured using 22Na+) and intracellular [Na+] (measured by ion-specific spectrofluorimetry). For comparison, the effects of propofol on synaptosomal glutamate release evoked by 4-aminopyridine (Na+ channel dependent), veratridine (Na+ channel dependent), KCi (Na+ channel independent) were studied using enzyme-coupled fluorimetry.


Propofol inhibited veratridine-evoked 22Na+ influx (inhibitory concentration of 50% [IC50] = 46 microM; 8.9 microM free) and changes in intracellular [Na+] (IC50 = 13 microM; 6.3 microM free) in synaptosomes in a dose-dependent manner. Propofol also inhibited 4-aminopyridine-evoked (IC50 = 39 microM; 19 microM free) and veratridine (20 microM)-evoked (IC50 = 30 microM; 14 microM free), but not KCi-evoked (up to 100 microM) glutamate release from synaptosomes.


Inhibition of Na+ channel-mediated Na+ influx, increased in intracellular [Na+], and glutamate release occurred in synaptosomes at concentrations of propofol achieved clinically. These results support a role for neuronal voltage-dependent Na+ channels as a molecular target for presynaptic general anesthetic effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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