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1.  Presynaptic inhibition of the release of multiple major central nervous system neurotransmitter types by the inhaled anaesthetic isoflurane 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;110(4):592-599.
Presynaptic effects of general anaesthetics are not well characterized. We tested the hypothesis that isoflurane exhibits transmitter-specific effects on neurotransmitter release from neurochemically and functionally distinct isolated mammalian nerve terminals.
Nerve terminals from adult male rat brain were prelabelled with [3H]glutamate and [14C]GABA (cerebral cortex), [3H]norepinephrine (hippocampus), [14C]dopamine (striatum), or [3H]choline (precursor of [3H]acetylcholine; striatum). Release evoked by depolarizing pulses of 4-aminopyridine (4AP) or elevated KCl was quantified using a closed superfusion system.
Isoflurane at clinical concentrations (<0.7 mM; ∼2 times median anaesthetic concentration) inhibited Na+ channel-dependent 4AP-evoked release of the five neurotransmitters tested in a concentration-dependent manner. Isoflurane was a more potent inhibitor [expressed as IC50 (sem)] of glutamate release [0.37 (0.03) mM; P<0.05] compared with the release of GABA [0.52 (0.03) mM], norepinephrine [0.48 (0.03) mM], dopamine [0.48 (0.03) mM], or acetylcholine [0.49 (0.02) mM]. Inhibition of Na+ channel-independent release evoked by elevated K+ was not significant at clinical concentrations of isoflurane, with the exception of dopamine release [IC50=0.59 (0.03) mM].
Isoflurane inhibited the release of the major central nervous system neurotransmitters with selectivity for glutamate release, consistent with both widespread inhibition and nerve terminal-specific presynaptic effects. Glutamate release was most sensitive to inhibition compared with GABA, acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine release due to presynaptic specializations in ion channel expression, regulation, and/or coupling to exocytosis. Reductions in neurotransmitter release by volatile anaesthetics could contribute to altered synaptic transmission, leading to therapeutic and toxic effects involving all major neurotransmitter systems.
PMCID: PMC3600942  PMID: 23213036
acetylcholine; γ-aminobutyric acid; anaesthetics; dopamine; exocytosis; glutamate; Na+ channels; nerve terminal; neurotransmitter release; norepinephrine
2.  Sodium Channels as Targets for Volatile Anesthetics 
The molecular mechanisms of modern inhaled anesthetics are still poorly understood although they are widely used in clinical settings. Considerable evidence supports effects on membrane proteins including ligand- and voltage-gated ion channels of excitable cells. Na+ channels are crucial to action potential initiation and propagation, and represent potential targets for volatile anesthetic effects on central nervous system depression. Inhibition of presynaptic Na+ channels leads to reduced neurotransmitter release at the synapse and could therefore contribute to the mechanisms by which volatile anesthetics produce their characteristic end points: amnesia, unconsciousness, and immobility. Early studies on crayfish and squid giant axon showed inhibition of Na+ currents by volatile anesthetics at high concentrations. Subsequent studies using native neuronal preparations and heterologous expression systems with various mammalian Na+ channel isoforms implicated inhibition of presynaptic Na+ channels in anesthetic actions at clinical concentrations. Volatile anesthetics reduce peak Na+ current (INa) and shift the voltage of half-maximal steady-state inactivation (h∞) toward more negative potentials, thus stabilizing the fast-inactivated state. Furthermore recovery from fast-inactivation is slowed, together with enhanced use-dependent block during pulse train protocols. These effects can depress presynaptic excitability, depolarization and Ca2+ entry, and ultimately reduce transmitter release. This reduction in transmitter release is more potent for glutamatergic compared to GABAergic terminals. Involvement of Na+ channel inhibition in mediating the immobility caused by volatile anesthetics has been demonstrated in animal studies, in which intrathecal infusion of the Na+ channel blocker tetrodotoxin increases volatile anesthetic potency, whereas infusion of the Na+ channels agonist veratridine reduces anesthetic potency. These studies indicate that inhibition of presynaptic Na+ channels by volatile anesthetics is involved in mediating some of their effects.
PMCID: PMC3316150  PMID: 22479247
sodium channels; volatile anesthetics; presynaptic; anesthetic mechanism
3.  Nicotinic receptor-evoked hippocampal norepinephrine release is highly sensitive to inhibition by isoflurane 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2009;102(3):355-360.
Inhaled anaesthetics (IAs) produce multiple dose-dependent behavioural effects including amnesia, hypnosis, and immobility in response to painful stimuli that are mediated by distinct anatomical, cellular, and molecular mechanisms. Amnesia is produced at lower anaesthetic concentrations compared with hypnosis or immobility. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) modulate hippocampal neural network correlates of memory and are highly sensitive to IAs. Activation of hippocampal nAChRs stimulates the release of norepinephrine (NE), a neurotransmitter implicated in modulating hippocampal synaptic plasticity. We tested the hypothesis that IAs disrupt hippocampal synaptic mechanisms critical to memory by determining the effects of isoflurane on NE release from hippocampal nerve terminals.
Isolated nerve terminals prepared from adult male Sprague–Dawley rat hippocampus were radiolabelled with [3H]NE and either [14C]GABA or [14C]glutamate and superfused at 37°C. Release evoked by a 2 min pulse of 100 µM nicotine or 5 µM 4-aminopyridine was evaluated in the presence or absence of isoflurane and/or selective antagonists.
Nicotine-evoked NE release from rat hippocampal nerve terminals was nAChR- and Ca2+-dependent, involved both α7 and non-α7 subunit-containing nAChRs, and was partially dependent on voltage-gated Na+ channel activation based on sensitivities to various antagonists. Isoflurane inhibited nicotine-evoked NE release (IC50=0.18 mM) more potently than depolarization-evoked NE release (IC50=0.27 mM, P=0.014), consistent with distinct presynaptic mechanisms of IA action.
Inhibition of hippocampal nAChR-dependent NE release by subanaesthetic concentrations of isoflurane supports a role in IA-induced amnesia.
PMCID: PMC2642653  PMID: 19189985
anaesthetics volatile, isoflurane; brain, anaesthesia, molecular effects; brain, hippocampus; ions, ion channels, ligand-gated; nerve, neurotransmitters
4.  Enhanced isoflurane suppression of excitatory synaptic transmission in the aged rat hippocampus 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1998;124(6):1075-1082.
The effects of the volatile anaesthetic, isoflurane, were investigated on evoked dendritic field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (f.e.p.s.p.) and antidromic and orthodromic population spikes recorded extracellularly in the CA1 cell layer region in the in vitro hippocampal slice taken from young mature (2–3 months) and old (24–27 months) Fisher 344 rats.Isoflurane depressed the and the orthodromically-evoked population spikes in both old and young hippocampi. However, the magnitude of the anaesthetic-induced depression was greater in slices taken from old rats compared to those taken from young rats during the application of different isoflurane concentrations (0.5–5%).In the presence of the GABAA antagonist, bicuculline methiodide (15 μM), isoflurane suppressed the to the same extent as was observed in the absence of the GABAA antagonist.Orthodromically evoked population spikes were suppressed by isoflurane in a manner quantitatively similar to the suppression of the However, antidromic population spikes and presynaptic volleys evoked in young and old slices were resistant to anaesthetic action. In addition, paired pulse facilitation ratio of the evoked dendritic was not affected in both young and old slices during the application of isoflurane.When slices were exposed to low Ca2+/high Mg2+ solution, isoflurane (1 and 3%) depressed the in aged slices to the same extent as in young slices.The augmented anaesthetic depression of in old compared to young hippocampi in the absence and presence of bicuculline, and the lack of anaesthetic effects on antidromic population spikes and presynaptic volleys in old and young slices, suggest that the increased sensitivity of anaesthetic actions in old hippocampi is due to age-induced attenuation of synaptic excitation rather than potentiation of synaptic inhibition. Furthermore, elimination of the increased sensitivity of old slices to anaesthetic actions when the slices were perfused with low Ca2+/high Mg2+ medium, which presumably would decrease intracellular [Ca2+], suggests that the enhanced anaesthetic effects in aged neurones might be related to increased intraneuronal [Ca2+] in the synaptic terminal.
PMCID: PMC1565481  PMID: 9720776
Ageing; hippocampal slice; anaesthetic; isoflurane; electrophysiology; synaptic transmission; paired pulse facilitation; Fisher 344 rats
5.  Pentobarbitone modulates calcium transients in axons and synaptic boutons of hippocampal CA1 neurons 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2003;140(5):971-979.
Although barbiturates, like other general anaesthetics, depress excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS), the underlying cellular mechanisms remain unresolved. They may increase the likelihood that an action potential will fail to invade every branch of the axonal arbour, thereby decreasing the synaptic drive to the postsynaptic neurons. Alternatively, they may inhibit calcium entry into the presynaptic terminals, thus reducing transmitter release.To resolve these issues, we have used two-photon microscopy to monitor calcium transients evoked by action potentials in axons, axonal varicosities (synaptic boutons) and fine axon collaterals of hippocampal CA1 neurons.Pentobarbitone (75–300 μM) did not block the invasion of the axonal arbour or the synaptic boutons, but it did reduce the amplitude of the calcium transients recorded from the axons in a concentration-dependent manner. At 150 μM, pentobarbitone reduced the transients to 78±4% of the control.Pentobarbitone depressed the calcium transients recorded from the synaptic boutons in a concentration-dependent manner. When 150 μM pentobarbitone was applied, the calcium transients recorded from the boutons were 53±3% of the control. This concentration of pentobarbitone also reduced the amplitude and frequency of the spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic potentials to 54±4 and 42±17% of the control, respectively.The local anaesthetic procaine (500 μM) had no significant effect on action potential invasion of axon collaterals, even though it reduced the action potential amplitude by 25%.This data are consistent with the notion that the pentobarbitone-induced depression of presynaptic calcium transients contributes to its depressant effect on excitatory synaptic transmission in the CNS.
PMCID: PMC1574109  PMID: 14517184
Axon; bouton; synapse; calcium; anaesthetic; pentobarbitone; procaine; calcium transient; hippocampus
6.  Reduced inhibition of cortical glutamate and GABA release by halothane in mice lacking the K+ channel, TREK-1 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2007;152(6):939-945.
Background and purpose:
Deletion of TREK-1, a two-pore domain K+ channel (K2P) activated by volatile anaesthetics, reduces volatile anaesthetic potency in mice, consistent with a role for TREK-1 as an anaesthetic target. We used TREK-1 knockout mice to examine the presynaptic function of TREK-1 in transmitter release and its role in the selective inhibition of glutamate vs GABA release by volatile anaesthetics.
Experimental approach:
The effects of halothane on 4-aminopyridine-evoked and basal [3H]glutamate and [14C]GABA release from cerebrocortical nerve terminals isolated from TREK-1 knockout (KO) and littermate wild-type (WT) mice were compared. TREK-1 was quantified by immunoblotting of nerve terminal preparations.
Key results:
Deletion of TREK-1 significantly reduced the potency of halothane inhibition of 4-aminopyridine-evoked release of both glutamate and GABA without affecting control evoked release or the selective inhibition of glutamate vs GABA release. TREK-1 deletion also reduced halothane inhibition of basal glutamate release, but did not affect basal GABA release.
Conclusions and implications:
The reduced sensitivity of glutamate and GABA release to inhibition by halothane in TREK-1 KO nerve terminals correlates with the reduced anaesthetic potency of halothane in TREK-1 KO mice observed in vivo. A presynaptic role for TREK-1 was supported by the enrichment of TREK-1 in isolated nerve terminals determined by immunoblotting. This study represents the first evidence for a link between an anaesthetic-sensitive 2-pore domain K+ channel and presynaptic function, and provides further support for presynaptic mechanisms in determining volatile anaesthetic action.
PMCID: PMC2078222  PMID: 17828284
halothane; glutamate release; GABA release; synaptosomes; TREK-1; knockout; MAC; volatile anaesthetics; mechanisms of anaesthesia
7.  Inhalational anaesthetics and n-alcohols share a site of action in the neuronal Shaw2 Kv channel 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2010;159(7):1475-1485.
Background and purpose:
Neuronal ion channels are key targets of general anaesthetics and alcohol, and binding of these drugs to pre-existing and relatively specific sites is thought to alter channel gating. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of this action are still poorly understood. Here, we investigated the neuronal Shaw2 voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channel to ask whether the inhalational anaesthetic halothane and n-alcohols share a binding site near the activation gate of the channel.
Experimental approach:
Focusing on activation gate mutations that affect channel modulation by n-alcohols, we investigated n-alcohol-sensitive and n-alcohol-resistant Kv channels heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes to probe the functional modulation by externally applied halothane using two-electrode voltage clamping and a gas-tight perfusion system.
Key results:
Shaw2 Kv channels are reversibly inhibited by halothane in a dose-dependent and saturable manner (K0.5= 400 µM; nH= 1.2). Also, discrete mutations in the channel's S4S5 linker are sufficient to reduce or confer inhibition by halothane (Shaw2-T330L and Kv3.4-G371I/T378A respectively). Furthermore, a point mutation in the S6 segment of Shaw2 (P410A) converted the halothane-induced inhibition into halothane-induced potentiation. Lastly, the inhibition resulting from the co-application of n-butanol and halothane is consistent with the presence of overlapping binding sites for these drugs and weak binding cooperativity.
Conclusions and implications:
These observations strongly support a molecular model of a general anaesthetic binding site in the Shaw2 Kv channel. This site may involve the amphiphilic interface between the S4S5 linker and the S6 segment, which plays a pivotal role in Kv channel activation.
PMCID: PMC2850404  PMID: 20136839
general anaesthesia; anaesthetic binding site; potassium channel; S4S5 linker; BKCa channel activation gating; global kinetic modelling
8.  Anaesthetics depress the sensitivity of cortical neurones to L-glutamate. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1976;58(3):347-357.
1 The effects of general anaesthetics on the responses of neurones to iontophoretically applied L-glutamate have been examined in slices of the guinea-pig olfactory cortex in vitro. 2 Concentrations of pentobarbitone, ether, methoxyflurance, trichloroethylene and alphaxalone that are known to depress synaptic transmission in the prepiriform cortex also depressed the sensitivity of prepiriform neurones to L-glutamate. 3 Halothane, in concentrations that depress synaptic transmission (less than 1%) did not alter sensitivity of neurones to glutamate. Higher concentrations (greater than 1% produced a dose-related depression of the glutamate sensitivity of neurones. 4 All four volatile anaesthetics tested caused some cells to alter their glutamate-evoked firing pattern to one in which the spike discharges were more closely grouped. Pentobarbitone and alphaxalone had no such effect. 5 If the sensitivity of the neurones to the endogenous excitatory transmitter is affected by anaesthetics in the same way as the glutamate-sensitivity, these results suggest that halothane depresses synaptic transmission by decreasing the amount of transmitter released from the nerve terminals, whereas the other anaesthetics depress the sensitivity of the post-synaptic membrane to the released transmitter.
PMCID: PMC1667593  PMID: 990590
9.  Comparison of anaesthetic and non-anaesthetic effects on depolarization-evoked glutamate and GABA release from mouse cerebrocortical slices 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1998;123(6):1274-1280.
Investigation with substances that are similar in structure, but different in anaesthetic properties, may lead to further understanding of the mechanisms of general anaesthesia.We have studied the effects of two cyclobutane derivatives, the anaesthetic, 1-chloro-1,2,2-trifluorocyclobutane (F3), and the non-anaesthetic, 1,2-dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane (F6), on K+-evoked glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release from isolated, superfused, cerebrocortical slices from mice, by use of h.p.l.c. with fluorescence detection for quantitative analysis.At clinically relevant concentrations, the anaesthetic, F3, inhibited 40 mM K+-evoked glutamate and GABA release by 72% and 47%, respectively, whereas the structurally similar non-anaesthetic, F6, suppressed evoked glutamate release by 70% but had no significant effects on evoked GABA release. A second exposure to 40 mM KCl after a ∼30 min washout of F3 or F6 showed recovery of K+-evoked release, suggesting that F3 and F6 did not cause any non-specific or irreversible changes in the brain slices.Our findings suggest that suppression of excitatory neurotransmitter release may not be directly relevant to the primary action of general anaesthetics. A mechanism involving inhibitory postsynaptic action is implicated, in which a moderate suppression of depolarization-evoked GABA release by the anaesthetic may be consistent with the enhancement of postsynaptic GABAergic activities.
PMCID: PMC1565278  PMID: 9559915
Neurotransmitter; γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA); glutamate; general anaesthetic; 1-chloro-1,2,2-trifluorocyclobutane (F3); non-anaesthetic; 1,2-dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane (F6); brain slice; high performance liquid chromatography (h.p.l.c.)
10.  Pre- and postsynaptic volatile anaesthetic actions on glycinergic transmission to spinal cord motor neurons 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2002;136(5):673-684.
A common anaesthetic endpoint, prevention of withdrawal from a noxious stimulus, is determined primarily in spinal cord, where glycine is an important inhibitory transmitter. To define pre- and postsynaptic anaesthetic actions at glycinergic snyapses, the effects of volatile anaesthetic agents on spontaneous and evoked glycinergic currents in spinal cord motor neurons from 6 – 14-day old rats was investigated.The volatile anaesthetic agents enflurane, isoflurane and halothane significantly increased the frequency of glycinergic mIPSCs, enflurane to 190.4% of control±22.0 (mean±s.e.m., n=7, P<0.01), isoflurane to 199.0%±28.8 (n=7, P<0.05) and halothane to 198.2%±19.5 (n=7, P<0.01). However without TTX, isoflurane and halothane had no significant effect and enflurane decreased sIPSC frequency to 42.5% of control±12.4 (n=6, P<0.01). All the anaesthetics prolonged the decay time constant (τ) of both spontaneous and glycine-evoked currents without increasing amplitude. With TTX total charge transfer was increased; without TTX charge transfer was unchanged (isoflurane and halothane) or decreased (enflurane).Enflurane-induced mIPSC frequency increases were not significantly affected by Cd2+ (50 μM), thapsigargin (1 – 5 μM), or KB-R7943 (5 μM). KB-R7943 and thapsigargin together abolished the enflurane-induced increase in mIPSC frequency.There are opposing facilitatory and inhibitory actions of volatile anaesthetics on glycine release dependent on calcium homeostatic mechanisms and sodium channels respectively. Under normal conditions (no TTX) the absolute amount of glycinergic inhibition does not increase. The contribution of glycinergic inhibition to anaesthesia may depend on its duration rather than its absolute magnitude.
PMCID: PMC1573392  PMID: 12086976
Enflurane; isoflurane; halothane; miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents; glycine; motor neurons; spinal cord; transmitter release
11.  Modulation of a recombinant invertebrate γ-aminobutyric acid receptor-chloride channel complex by isoflurane: effects of a point mutation in the M2 domain 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1997;122(4):726-732.
Inhalational anaesthetics modulate ligand-gated ion channels at clinical concentrations. In this paper we address submolecular mechanisms for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor modulation by isoflurane.Wild-type Drosophila melanogaster homo-oligomeric GABA receptors were characterized and compared with an ion-channel mutant (alanine substituted to a serine in M2) by means of two-electrode voltage-clamp in membrane-invariant Xenopus oocytes.Both channel receptor isoforms generated outwardly rectifying, bicuculline-insensitive currents with reversal potentials characteristic of a chloride current.As previously shown, the point mutation in the M2 domain conferred a profound resistance to the blocking action of 10 μM picrotoxinin (PTX): circa 7 fold reduction at the GABA EC20.Isoflurane, 195–389 μM, enhanced GABA conductance in both receptor variants by significantly increasing the affinity of the agonist for its receptor without changing Hill slope or maximal response. Relative potencies were statistically indistinguishable.Isoflurane concentration-response curves (on circa GABA EC25) demonstrated that enhancement was effected at around 100–195 μM for both receptor subtypes, but a dramatic divergence was evident at concentrations above 400 μM: wild-type receptors exhibited concentration-dependent block, whilst mutant conductances continued to increase over the same concentration range, showing no tendency to saturate (up to 3330 μM).The above divergence was not attributable to differential desensitization: neither wild-type nor mutant conductance desensitized significantly (P>0.05) in the absence or presence of anaesthetic.This work demonstrates that modulatory sites for anaesthetic are present on a relatively primitive insect ion channel.The depression of GABA response at high isoflurane concentrations, in WT receptors, (typical of a variety of anaesthetic agents) may reflect low affinity channel block via the PTX site.The non-saturable enhancement of chloride conductances, when the PTX site is mutated, is not consistent with topical proposals that inhalational anaesthetics (stereoselectively) occupy a finite number of sites on these membrane spanning proteins.
PMCID: PMC1564976  PMID: 9375970
Drosophila recombinant GABA receptor; chloride channel, isoflurane; point mutation in M2; site within chloride channel lumen; Xenopus oocytes
12.  Stereoselective modulatory actions of oleamide on GABAA receptors and voltage-gated Na+ channels in vitro: a putative endogenous ligand for depressant drug sites in CNS 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2000;129(2):283-290.
cis-9,10-octadecenoamide (‘oleamide') accumulates in CSF on sleep deprivation. It induces sleep in animals (the trans form is inactive) but its cellular actions are poorly characterized. We have used electrophysiology in cultures from embryonic rat cortex and biochemical studies in mouse nerve preparations to address these issues.Twenty μM cis-oleamide (but not trans) reversibly enhanced GABAA currents and depressed the frequency of spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory synaptic activity in cultured networks.cis-oleamide stereoselectively blocked veratridine-induced (but not K+-induced) depolarisation of mouse synaptoneurosomes (IC50, 13.9 μM).The cis isomer stereoselectively blocked veratridine-induced (but not K+-induced) [3H]-GABA release from mouse synaptosomes (IC50, 4.6 μM).At 20 μM cis-oleamide, but not trans, produced a marked inhibition of Na+ channel-dependent rises in intrasynaptosomal Ca2+.The physiological significance of these observations was examined by isolating Na+ spikes in cultured pyramidal neurones. Sixty-four μM cis-oleamide did not significantly alter the amplitude, rate of rise or duration of unitary action potentials (1 Hz).cis-Oleamide stereoselectively suppressed sustained repetitive firing (SRF) in these cells with an EC50 of 4.1 μM suggesting a frequency- or state-dependent block of voltage-gated Na+ channels.Oleamide is a stereoselective modulator of both postsynaptic GABAA receptors and presynaptic or somatic voltage-gated Na+ channels which are crucial for synaptic inhibition and conduction. The modulatory actions are strikingly similar to those displayed by sedative or anticonvulsant barbiturates and a variety of general anaesthetics.Oleamide may represent an endogenous modulator for drug receptors and an important regulator of arousal.
PMCID: PMC1571835  PMID: 10694234
cis-9,10-octadecenoamide (oleamide); GABAA receptor; voltage-gated Na+ channel; sustained repetitive firing; cultured rat cortical neurons; mouse synaptoneurosomes/synaptosomes; transmitter release; intracellular Ca2+; hypnotic/anaesthetic/anticonvulsant drugs; electrophysiology/patch clamp; endogenous sleep regulator
13.  The effects of the muscle relaxant, CS-722, on synaptic activity of cultured neurones. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1996;119(1):126-132.
1. The pharmacological properties of the centrally acting muscle relaxant, CS-722, were studied in cultured hippocampal cells and dorsal root ganglion cells of the rat using the whole-cell variation of the patch clamp technique. 2. CS-722 inhibited the occurrence of spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents in hippocampal neurones at concentrations of 100-300 microM, but had no effect on postsynaptic currents evoked by the application of glycine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate or N-methyl-D-aspartate. 3. CS-722 reduced voltage-gated sodium currents, while shifting the sodium channel inactivation curve to more negative membrane potentials. This effect is similar to that reported for local anaesthetics. Voltage-gated potassium currents were decreased by CS-722 by approximately 20%, whereas voltage-activated calcium currents were inhibited by about 25%. 4. CS-722 inhibited evoked inhibitory postsynaptic currents. However, the spontaneous quantal release of inhibitory transmitter was not affected. 5. The inhibitory effect of CS-722 on spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents and excitatory postsynaptic currents in hippocampal cultures probably results from an inhibition of both sodium and calcium currents. This inhibitory effect is likely to be amplified in polysynaptic neuronal circuits.
PMCID: PMC1915728  PMID: 8872365
14.  Mechanisms Involved in the Nociception Triggered by the Venom of the Armed Spider Phoneutria nigriventer 
The frequency of accidental spider bites in Brazil is growing, and poisoning due to bites from the spider genus Phoneutria nigriventer is the second most frequent source of such accidents. Intense local pain is the major symptom reported after bites of P. nigriventer, although the mechanisms involved are still poorly understood. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify the mechanisms involved in nociception triggered by the venom of Phoneutria nigriventer (PNV).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Twenty microliters of PNV or PBS was injected into the mouse paw (intraplantar, The time spent licking the injected paw was considered indicative of the level of nociception. injection of PNV produced spontaneous nociception, which was reduced by arachnid antivenin (ArAv), local anaesthetics, opioids, acetaminophen and dipyrone, but not indomethacin. Boiling or dialysing the venom reduced the nociception induced by the venom. PNV-induced nociception is not dependent on glutamate or histamine receptors or on mast cell degranulation, but it is mediated by the stimulation of sensory fibres that contain serotonin 4 (5-HT4) and vanilloid receptors (TRPV1). We detected a kallikrein-like kinin-generating enzyme activity in tissue treated with PNV, which also contributes to nociception. Inhibition of enzymatic activity or administration of a receptor antagonist for kinin B2 was able to inhibit the nociception induced by PNV. PNV nociception was also reduced by the blockade of tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na+ channels, acid-sensitive ion channels (ASIC) and TRPV1 receptors.
Results suggest that both low- and high-molecular-weight toxins of PNV produce spontaneous nociception through direct or indirect action of kinin B2, TRPV1, 5-HT4 or ASIC receptors and voltage-dependent sodium channels present in sensory neurons but not in mast cells. Understanding the mechanisms involved in nociception caused by PNV are of interest not only for better treating poisoning by P. nigriventer but also appreciating the diversity of targets triggered by PNV toxins.
Author Summary
Spiders of the Phoneutria genus live in Central and South America, where relevant envenomation cases have been reported in humans. The incidence of bite by spiders in Brazil has increased in recent years, with Phoneutria nigriventer being the second most important cause of such accidents (approximately 4,000 cases of envenomation in 2011). Pain is the primary local symptom of inoculation with Phoneutria nigriventer venom (PNV), but the mechanisms involved in pain induced by PNV are poorly understood. It is important to find effective treatments to alleviate this pain. This study examined the mechanisms involved in pain caused by PNV in a mouse model as well as the sensitivity of PNV-induced pain to clinically used analgesics. The results show that both the low- and high-molecular-weight components of PNV produce spontaneous nociception action via kinin B2, TRPV1, 5-HT4 or ASIC receptors and the voltage-gated Na+ channels present in sensory fibres. Moreover, PNV-triggered nociception could be alleviated by arachnid antivenin, local anaesthetics, opioids and atypical, but not typical, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The elucidation of the mechanisms responsible for the nociception induced by PNV is of interest to not only better treat envenomation by P. nigriventer but also understand the diversity of targets triggered by PNV toxins.
PMCID: PMC3636088  PMID: 23638210
15.  Actions of general anaesthetics and arachidonic acid pathway inhibitors on K+ currents activated by volatile anaesthetics and FMRFamide in molluscan neurones 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1998;125(2):309-318.
K+ currents activated by volatile general anaesthetics (IK(An)) and by the neuropeptide FMRFamide (IK(FMRFa)) were studied under voltage clamp in isolated identified neurones from the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis.IK(An) was activated by all the volatile anaesthetics studied. The maximal responses varied from agent to agent, with halothane≈amp;sevoflurane>isoflurane>enflurane≈amp;chloroform.IK(An) was inhibited rather than activated by the n-alcohols from hexanol to dodecanol and by the 6- and 8-carbon cycloalcohols. The n-alcohols exhibited a cutoff effect, with dodecanol being unable to half-inhibit IK(An).Unlike IK(An) which did not desensitize at reasonable halothane concentrations, IK(FMRFa) desensitized at most FMRFamide concentrations studied. This desensitization could be substantially removed by halothane. Nonetheless, both IK(An) and IK(FMRFa) had similar sensitivities to the potassium channel blockers tetraethylammonium and 4-aminopyridine, consistent with both currents flowing through the same channels. Responses to low concentrations of halothane and FMRFamide showed synergy.The phospholipase A2 inhibitor aristolochic acid inhibited IK(An), consistent with a role for arachidonic acid (AA). The lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase inhibitor nordihydroguaiaretic acid blocked IK(FMRFa) but did not affect IK(An). IK(An) and IK(FMRFa) were little affected by the cyclooxygenase inhibitor indomethacin. These findings suggest that neither lipoxygenase nor cyclooxygenase pathways of AA metabolism are involved in the anaesthetic activation of IK(An).Inhibitors of a third, cytochrome P450-mediated, pathway of AA metabolism (clotrimazole and econazole) potently blocked IK(An), suggesting possible roles for certain cytochrome P450 isoforms in the activation of IK(An).
PMCID: PMC1565621  PMID: 9786503
General anaesthesia; volatile anaesthetics; alcohols; arachidonic acid; cytochrome P450; FMRFamide; potassium channels
16.  Nitric Oxide Modulation of GABAergic Synaptic Transmission in Mechanically Isolated Rat Auditory Cortical Neurons 
The auditory cortex (A1) encodes the acquired significance of sound for the perception and interpretation of sound. Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas molecule with free radical properties that functions as a transmitter molecule and can alter neural activity without direct synaptic connections. We used whole-cell recordings under voltage clamp to investigate the effect of NO on spontaneous GABAergic synaptic transmission in mechanically isolated rat auditory cortical neurons preserving functional presynaptic nerve terminals. GABAergic spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) in the A1 were completely blocked by bicuculline. The NO donor, S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), reduced the GABAergic sIPSC frequency without affecting the mean current amplitude. The SNAP-induced inhibition of sIPSC frequency was mimicked by 8-bromoguanosine cyclic 3',5'-monophosphate, a membrane permeable cyclic-GMP analogue, and blocked by 2-(4-carboxyphenyl)-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide, a specific NO scavenger. Blockade of presynaptic K+ channels by 4-aminopyridine, a K+ channel blocker, increased the frequencies of GABAergic sIPSCs, but did not affect the inhibitory effects of SNAP. However, blocking of presynaptic Ca2+ channels by Cd2+, a general voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel blocker, decreased the frequencies of GABAergic sIPSCs, and blocked SNAP-induced reduction of sIPSC frequency. These findings suggest that NO inhibits spontaneous GABA release by activation of cGMP-dependent signaling and inhibition of presynaptic Ca2+ channels in the presynaptic nerve terminals of A1 neurons.
PMCID: PMC2802307  PMID: 20054493
Auditory cortex; Nitric oxide; Synaptic transmission; GABA
17.  Comparative Effects of Halogenated Inhaled Anesthetics on Voltage-gated Na+ Channel Function 
Anesthesiology  2009;110(3):582-590.
Inhibition of voltage-gated Na+ channels (Nav) is implicated in the synaptic actions of volatile anesthetics. We studied the effects of the major halogenated inhaled anesthetics (halothane, isoflurane, sevoflurane, enflurane and desflurane) on Nav1.4, a well characterized pharmacological model for Nav effects.
Na+ currents (INa) from rat Nav1.4 α-subunits heterologously expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells were analyzed by whole cell voltage-clamp electrophysiological recording.
Halogenated inhaled anesthetics reversibly inhibited Nav1.4 in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner at clinical concentrations. At equi-anesthetic concentrations, peak INa was inhibited with a rank order of desflurane > halothane ≈ enflurane > isoflurane ≈ sevoflurane from a physiological holding potential (−80 mV). This suggests that the contribution of Na+ channel block to anesthesia might vary in an agent-specific manner. From a hyperpolarized holding potential that minimizes inactivation (−120 mV), peak INa was inhibited with a rank order of potency for tonic inhibition of peak INa of halothane > isoflurane ≈ sevoflurane > enflurane > desflurane. Desflurane produced the largest negative shift in voltage-dependence of fast inactivation consistent with its more prominent voltage-dependent effects. A comparison between isoflurane and halothane showed that halothane produced greater facilitation of current decay, slowing of recovery from fast inactivation, and use-dependent block than isoflurane.
Five halogenated inhaled anesthetics all inhibit a voltage-gated Na+ channel by voltage- and use-dependent mechanisms. Agent-specific differences in efficacy for Na+ channel inhibition due to differential state-dependent mechanisms creates pharmacologic diversity that could underlie subtle differences in anesthetic and nonanesthetic actions.
PMCID: PMC2699670  PMID: 19225394
18.  Changing the responses of cortical neurons from sub- to suprathreshold using single spikes in vivo 
eLife  null;2:e00012.
Action Potential (APs) patterns of sensory cortex neurons encode a variety of stimulus features, but how can a neuron change the feature to which it responds? Here, we show that in vivo a spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) protocol—consisting of pairing a postsynaptic AP with visually driven presynaptic inputs—modifies a neurons' AP-response in a bidirectional way that depends on the relative AP-timing during pairing. Whereas postsynaptic APs repeatedly following presynaptic activation can convert subthreshold into suprathreshold responses, APs repeatedly preceding presynaptic activation reduce AP responses to visual stimulation. These changes were paralleled by restructuring of the neurons response to surround stimulus locations and membrane-potential time-course. Computational simulations could reproduce the observed subthreshold voltage changes only when presynaptic temporal jitter was included. Together this shows that STDP rules can modify output patterns of sensory neurons and the timing of single-APs plays a crucial role in sensory coding and plasticity.
eLife digest
Nerve cells, called neurons, are one of the core components of the brain and form complex networks by connecting to other neurons via long, thin ‘wire-like’ processes called axons. Axons can extend across the brain, enabling neurons to form connections—or synapses—with thousands of others. It is through these complex networks that incoming information from sensory organs, such as the eye, is propagated through the brain and encoded.
The basic unit of communication between neurons is the action potential, often called a ‘spike’, which propagates along the network of axons and, through a chemical process at synapses, communicates with the postsynaptic neurons that the axon is connected to. These action potentials excite the neuron that they arrive at, and this excitatory process can generate a new action potential that then propagates along the axon to excite additional target neurons. In the visual areas of the cortex, neurons respond with action potentials when they ‘recognize’ a particular feature in a scene—a process called tuning. How a neuron becomes tuned to certain features in the world and not to others is unclear, as are the rules that enable a neuron to change what it is tuned to. What is clear, however, is that to understand this process is to understand the basis of sensory perception.
Memory storage and formation is thought to occur at synapses. The efficiency of signal transmission between neurons can increase or decrease over time, and this process is often referred to as synaptic plasticity. But for these synaptic changes to be transmitted to target neurons, the changes must alter the number of action potentials. Although it has been shown in vitro that the efficiency of synaptic transmission—that is the strength of the synapse—can be altered by changing the order in which the pre- and postsynaptic cells are activated (referred to as ‘Spike-timing-dependent plasticity’), this has never been shown to have an effect on the number of action potentials generated in a single neuron in vivo. It is therefore unknown whether this process is functionally relevant.
Now Pawlak et al. report that spike-timing-dependent plasticity in the visual cortex of anaesthetized rats can change the spiking of neurons in the visual cortex. They used a visual stimulus (a bar flashed up for half a second) to activate a presynaptic cell, and triggered a single action potential in the postsynaptic cell a very short time later. By repeatedly activating the cells in this way, they increased the strength of the synaptic connection between the two neurons. After a small number of these pairing activations, presenting the visual stimulus alone to the presynaptic cell was enough to trigger an action potential (a suprathreshold response) in the postsynaptic neuron—even though this was not the case prior to the pairing.
This study shows that timing rules known to change the strength of synaptic connections—and proposed to underlie learning and memory—have functional relevance in vivo, and that the timing of single action potentials can change the functional status of a cortical neuron.
PMCID: PMC3552422  PMID: 23359858
synaptic plasticity; STDP; visual cortex; circuits; in vivo; spiking patterns; rat
19.  The actions of pentobarbitone, procaine and tetrodotoxin on synaptic transmission in the olfactory cortex of the guinea-pig. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1982;75(4):639-646.
1 It has been suggested that the depression of excitatory synaptic potentials produced by general anaesthetics can be attributed to a partial blockade of impulse conduction in the terminal branches of axons. This hypothesis has been tested by comparing the actions of pentobarbitone, procaine and tetrodotoxin (TTX) on synaptic transmission in the guinea-pig olfactory cortex. 2 Pentobarbitone (0.1-0.3mM) depressed the evoked synaptic potentials without any significant depression of impulse conduction in the afferent fibres of the lateral olfactory tract (1.o.t). It had no effect on the electrical excitability of either the l.o.t axons or the postsynaptic neurones. 3 Tetrodotoxin (TTX; 1-5x10(-8 M) slowed conduction of impulses in the l.o.t. and decreased the amplitude of the l.o.t compound action potential in proportion to the concentration applied. All concentrations of TTX elevated the electrical threshold of the l.o.t. axons and there was evidence to suggest that the threshold of the postsynaptic neurones was also elevated. The synaptic potentials were depressed in direct proportion to the depression of the l.o.t. compound action potential. 4 Procaine (0.1-0.5 mM) exhibited a pattern of activity intermediate between pentobarbitone and TTX. The most marked effect, seen at all concentrations tested, was a slowing of impulse conduction and a decrease in the electrical excitability of the l.o.t. axons. 5 It is concluded that general anaesthetics (exemplified by pentobarbitone) depress synaptic transmission by interfering with the processes involved in chemical transmission and not by blocking impulse conduction in the terminal branches of afferent nerves.
PMCID: PMC2071526  PMID: 6279219
20.  The general anaesthetic etomidate inhibits the excitability of mouse thalamocortical relay neurons by modulating multiple modes of GABAA receptor-mediated inhibition 
The European Journal of Neuroscience  2014;40(3):2487-2501.
Modulation of thalamocortical (TC) relay neuron function has been implicated in the sedative and hypnotic effects of general anaesthetics. Inhibition of TC neurons is mediated predominantly by a combination of phasic and tonic inhibition, together with a recently described ‘spillover’ mode of inhibition, generated by the dynamic recruitment of extrasynaptic γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptors (GABAARs). Previous studies demonstrated that the intravenous anaesthetic etomidate enhances tonic and phasic inhibition in TC relay neurons, but it is not known how etomidate may influence spillover inhibition. Moreover, it is unclear how etomidate influences the excitability of TC neurons. Thus, to investigate the relative contribution of synaptic (α1β2γ2) and extrasynaptic (α4β2δ) GABAARs to the thalamic effects of etomidate, we performed whole-cell recordings from mouse TC neurons lacking synaptic (α10/0) or extrasynaptic (δ0/0) GABAARs. Etomidate (3 μm) significantly inhibited action-potential discharge in a manner that was dependent on facilitation of both synaptic and extrasynaptic GABAARs, although enhanced tonic inhibition was dominant in this respect. Additionally, phasic inhibition evoked by stimulation of the nucleus reticularis exhibited a spillover component mediated by δ-GABAARs, which was significantly prolonged in the presence of etomidate. Thus, etomidate greatly enhanced the transient suppression of TC spike trains by evoked inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. Collectively, these results suggest that the deactivation of thalamus observed during etomidate-induced anaesthesia involves potentiation of tonic and phasic inhibition, and implicate amplification of spillover inhibition as a novel mechanism to regulate the gating of sensory information through the thalamus during anaesthetic states.
PMCID: PMC4215602  PMID: 24773078
nucleus reticularis; phasic inhibition; spill-over inhibition; thalamus; tonic inhibition
21.  Inhibition by propofol of [3H]-batrachotoxinin-A 20-alpha-benzoate binding to voltage-dependent sodium channels in rat cortical synaptosomes. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1996;119(7):1498-1504.
1. Propofol (2,6 di-isopropylphenol), an intravenous general anaesthetic, blocks voltage-dependent Na+ channels (Na+ channels). In this study the interaction between propofol and Na+ channels was analysed by examining its effects on neurotoxin binding to various receptor sites of the Na+ channel in rat cerebrocortical synaptosomes. 2. Propofol (10-200 microM) exhibited concentration-dependent inhibition of equilibrium binding of [3H]-batrachotoxinin-A 20-alpha-benzoate ([3H]-BTX-B) to receptor site 2 of the Na+ channel (mean IC50 = 26 microM; 6.5 microM free). Scatchard analysis revealed that propofol significantly increased the KD without affecting the Bmax for [3H]-BTX-B binding. 3. Kinetic studies of [3H]-BTX-B binding in the presence of various concentrations (25-200 microM) of propofol showed no significant changes in the association rate of [3H]-BTX-B. However, propofol at 200 microM significantly increased the rate of dissociation of [3H]-BTX-B, consistent with an indirect allosteric competitive mechanism of inhibition. 4. [3H]-saxitoxin binding to receptor site 1 and [3H]-brevetoxin-3 binding to receptor site 5 of the Na+ channel were not inhibited by propofol (10-200 microM). 5. Propofol (10-100 microM) exhibited concentration-dependent inhibition of veratridine-evoked Na+ influx either in the absence or presence of scorpion toxin with IC50 values of 46 microM (8.8 microM free) and 44 microM (8.5 microM free), respectively. 6. These results suggest that propofol inhibits voltage-dependent Na+ channels due to a preferential interaction with the inactivated state of the channel. Blockade of Na+ channels by propofol, which is known to inhibit glutamate release from synaptosomes, may contribute to its anaesthetic, anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties.
PMCID: PMC1915811  PMID: 8968561
22.  Intravenous anaesthetics inhibit nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-mediated currents and Ca2+ transients in rat intracardiac ganglion neurons 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2004;144(1):98-107.
The effects of intravenous (i.v.) anaesthetics on nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)-induced transients in intracellular free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and membrane currents were investigated in neonatal rat intracardiac neurons.In fura-2-loaded neurons, nAChR activation evoked a transient increase in [Ca2+]I, which was inhibited reversibly and selectively by clinically relevant concentrations of thiopental. The half-maximal concentration for thiopental inhibition of nAChR-induced [Ca2+]i transients was 28 μM, close to the estimated clinical EC50 (clinically relevant (half-maximal) effective concentration) of thiopental.In fura-2-loaded neurons, voltage clamped at −60 mV to eliminate any contribution of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, thiopental (25 μM) simultaneously inhibited nAChR-induced increases in [Ca2+]i and peak current amplitudes. Thiopental inhibited nAChR-induced peak current amplitudes in dialysed whole-cell recordings by ∼ 40% at −120, −80 and −40 mV holding potential, indicating that the inhibition is voltage independent.The barbiturate, pentobarbital and the dissociative anaesthetic, ketamine, used at clinical EC50 were also shown to inhibit nAChR-induced increases in [Ca2+]i by ∼40%.Thiopental (25 μM) did not inhibit caffeine-, muscarine- or ATP-evoked increases in [Ca2+]i, indicating that inhibition of Ca2+ release from internal stores via either ryanodine receptor or inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor channels is unlikely.Depolarization-activated Ca2+ channel currents were unaffected in the presence of thiopental (25 μM), pentobarbital (50 μM) and ketamine (10 μM).In conclusion, i.v. anaesthetics inhibit nAChR-induced currents and [Ca2+]i transients in intracardiac neurons by binding to nAChRs and thereby may contribute to changes in heart rate and cardiac output under clinical conditions.
PMCID: PMC1575970  PMID: 15644873
Intracardiac ganglia; ganglionic transmission; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; intracellular Ca2+; intravenous anaesthetics; thiopental; pentobarbital; ketamine; caffeine
23.  The effect of anaesthetics on the uptake and release of gamma-aminobutyrate and D-aspartate in rat brain slices. 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1981;73(3):681-689.
1 The effect of various concentrations of thiopentone, pentobarbitone, methohexitone, hydroxydione, alphaxalone/alphadolone, ketamine, alpha-chloralose, and urethane on the transport of radiolabelled gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and D-aspartate was investigated. 2 Uptake of the amino acids was weakly inhibited, if at all, by the anaesthetics and it is unlikely that such effects contribute significantly to their physiological function. 3 The spontaneous efflux of GABA and D-aspartate was not detectably altered by any of the drugs tested. 4 Thiopentone, pentobarbitone, methohexitone and hydroxydione inhibited K+-stimulated GABA and D-aspartate release. The other anaesthetics had no effect on K+-stimulated amino acid release. 5 The rank order of potency of the inhibitors of K+-stimulated amino acid release did not correlate with their anaesthetic potency. Furthermore not all inhibitors appeared to be very effective at anaesthetic concentrations. 6 It is concluded that although it is possible that inhibition of excitatory transmitter release may be involved in the anaesthetic action of some anaesthetics, for many of the substances tested in this study such as mechanism does not appear to be implicated.
PMCID: PMC2071707  PMID: 6265017
24.  Regional differences in the effects of isoflurane on neurotransmitter release 
Neuropharmacology  2011;61(4):699-706.
Stimulus evoked neurotransmitter release requires that Na+ channel-dependent nerve terminal depolarization be transduced into synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Inhaled anesthetics block presynaptic Na+ channels and selectively inhibit glutamate over GABA release from isolated nerve terminals, indicating mechanistic differences between excitatory and inhibitory transmitter release. We compared the effects of isoflurane on depolarization-evoked [3H]glutamate and [14C]GABA release from isolated nerve terminals prepared from four regions of rat CNS evoked by 4-aminopyridine (4AP), veratridine (VTD), or elevated K+. These mechanistically distinct secretegogues distinguished between Na+ channel- and/or Ca2+ channel-mediated presynaptic effects. Isoflurane completely inhibited total 4AP-evoked glutamate release (IC50=0.42 ± 0.03 mM) more potently than GABA release (IC50=0.56 ± 0.02 mM) from cerebral cortex (1.3-fold greater potency), hippocampus and striatum, but inhibited glutamate and GABA release from spinal cord terminals equipotently. Na+ channel-specific VTD-evoked glutamate release from cortex was also significantly more sensitive to inhibition by isoflurane than was GABA release. Na+ channel-independent K+-evoked release was insensitive to isoflurane at clinical concentrations in all four regions, consistent with a target upstream of Ca2+ entry. Isoflurane inhibited Na+ channel-mediated (tetrodotoxin-sensitive) 4AP-evoked glutamate release (IC50=0.30 ± 0.03 mM) more potently than GABA release (IC50=0.67 ± 0.04 mM) from cortex (2.2-fold greater potency). The magnitude of inhibition of Na+ channel-mediated 4AP-evoked release by a single clinical concentration of isoflurane (0.35 mM) varied by region and transmitter: Inhibition of glutamate release from spinal cord was greater than from the three brain regions and greater than GABA release for each CNS region. These findings indicate that isoflurane selectively inhibits glutamate release compared to GABA release via Na+ channel-mediated transduction in the four CNS regions tested, and that differences in presynaptic Na+ channel involvement determine differences in anesthetic pharmacology.
PMCID: PMC3130078  PMID: 21651920
Na+ channels; glutamate; GABA; nerve terminal; tetrodotoxin; rat
25.  Bidirectional modulation of isoflurane potency by intrathecal tetrodotoxin and veratridine in rats 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2010;159(4):872-878.
Background and purpose:
Results from several studies point to voltage-gated Na+ channels as potential mediators of the immobility produced by inhaled anaesthetics. We hypothesized that the intrathecal administration of tetrodotoxin, a drug that blocks Na+ channels, should enhance anaesthetic potency, and that concurrent administration of veratridine, a drug that augments Na+ channel opening, should reverse the increase in potency.
Experimental approach:
We measured the change in isoflurane potency for reducing movement in response to a painful stimulus as defined by MAC (minimum alveolar concentration of anaesthetic required to abolish movement in 50% of subjects) caused by intrathecal infusion of various concentrations of tetrodotoxin into the lumbothoracic subarachnoid space of rats, and the change in MAC caused by the administration of a fixed dose of tetrodotoxin plus various doses of intrathecal veratridine.
Key results:
Intrathecal infusion of tetrodotoxin (0.078–0.63 µM) produced a reversible dose-related decrease in MAC, of more than 50% at the highest concentration. Intrathecal co-administration of veratridine (1.6–6.4 µM) reversed this decrease in a dose-related manner, with nearly complete reversal at the highest veratridine dose tested.
Conclusions and implications:
Intrathecal administration of tetrodotoxin increases isoflurane potency (decreases isoflurane MAC), and intrathecal administration of veratridine counteracts this effect in vivo. These findings are consistent with a role for voltage-gated Na+ channel blockade in the immobility produced by inhaled anaesthetics.
PMCID: PMC2829212  PMID: 20105175
inhaled anaesthetics; isoflurane; MAC; mechanisms of anaesthetic action; sodium channels; tetrodotoxin; veratridine

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