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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transmission through the dorsal spinocerebellar and spinoreticular tracts: wakefulness versus thiopental anesthesia.

BACKGROUND: Most of what is known regarding the actions of injectable barbiturate anesthetics on the activity of lumbar sensory neurons arises from experiments performed in acute animal preparations that are exposed to invasive surgery and neural depression caused by coadministered inhalational anesthetics. Other parameters such as cortical synchronization and motor ouflow are typically not monitored, and, therefore, anesthetic actions on multiple cellular systems have not been quantitatively compared. METHODS: The activities of antidromically identified dorsal spinocerebellar and spinoreticular tract neurons, neck motoneurons, and cortical neurons were monitored extracellularly before, during, and following recovery from the anesthetic state induced by thiopental in intact, chronically instrumented animal preparations. RESULTS: Intravenous administration of 15 mg/kg, but not 5 mg/kg, of thiopental to awake cats induced general anesthesia that was characterized by 5-10 min of cortical synchronization, reflected as large-amplitude slow-wave events and neck muscle atonia. However, even though the animal behaviorally began to reemerge from the anesthetic state after this 5-10-min period, neck muscle (neck motoneuron) activity recovered more slowly and remained significantly suppressed for up to 23 min after thiopental administration. The spontaneous activity of both dorsal spinocerebellar and spinoreticular tract neurons was maximally suppressed 5 min after administration but remained significantly attenuated for up to 17 min after injection. Peripheral nerve and glutamate-evoked responses of dorsal spinocerebellar and spinoreticular tract neurons were particularly sensitive to thiopental administration and remained suppressed for up to 20 min after injection. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that thiopental administration is associated with a prolonged blockade of motoneuron output and sensory transmission through the dorsal spinocerebellar and spinoreticular tracts that exceeds the duration of general anesthesia. Further, the blockade of glutamate-evoked neuronal responses indicates that these effects are due, in part, to a local action of the drug in the spinal cord. The authors suggest that this combination of lumbar sensory and motoneuron inhibition underlies the prolonged impairment of reflex coordination observed when thiopental is used clinically.[1]


  1. Transmission through the dorsal spinocerebellar and spinoreticular tracts: wakefulness versus thiopental anesthesia. Soja, P.J., Taepavarapruk, N., Pang, W., Cairns, B.E., McErlane, S.A., Fragoso, M.C. Anesthesiology (2002) [Pubmed]
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