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Electrophysiological studies of the effects of the general anesthetic etomidate on frog myelinated nerve fiber

, : Electrophysiological studies of the effects of the general anesthetic etomidate on frog myelinated nerve fiber. British Journal of Pharmacology 90(1): 7-14

The effects of the general anaesthetic etomidate (0.1 to 1 mM) upon the node of Ranvier of frog isolated nerve fibres were investigated under current and voltage clamp conditions. When added to the external solution, etomidate reversibly decreased the amplitude of the action potential. The action potential block, induced by the drug, was reversed by increasing the membrane potential. Etomidate rapidly and reversibly blocked the Na current with an apparent dissociation constant of 0.6 mM. In the presence of the drug, the steady-state inactivation-voltage curve of the Na current was shifted towards negative voltages. The block of Na current by etomidate was partially removed by repetitive depolarization preceded by a 50 ms period of hyperpolarization. In contrast, the block was enhanced when the repetitive depolarization was not preceded by hyperpolarization. This suggests that Na channels were preferentially blocked by the drug in the inactivated state. The K current was reversibly blocked by etomidate with an apparent dissociation constant of 0.2 mM. In the presence of the drug, the K current showed an apparent fast inactivation suggesting that K channels were blocked in the open state. We conclude that at higher concentrations than those attainable in the mammalian brain following single anaesthetic doses the general anaesthetic etomidate has a 'local anaesthetic-like' action on the peripheral nervous system.

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