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

Interactions between molecules of a steroid anaesthetic (alphaxalone) and ionic channels of nodal membrane in voltage-clamped myelinated nerve fibre.

1. The effects of the anaesthetic alphaxalone (0.05 to 1 mM) on the node of Ranvier of isolated myelinated nerve fibres of the frog were studied under voltage-clamp conditions. 2. When added to the solution bathing voltage-clamped nodes, alphaxalone modified neither linear leakage nor capacitative currents but rapidly and reversibly blocked K and Na currents. The blocking effects of the anaesthetic on both types of current were not dependent on the frequency of stimulation of the nerve fibres between 0.7 and 10 Hz. 3. The kinetics of the Na current were not modified by alphaxalone but, in the presence of the drug, the K current showed an apparent fast inactivation. 4. Alphaxalone rapidly and reversibly shifted towards negative voltages both the steady-state K conductance-voltage and the peak Na steady-state inactivation-voltage relationships, without noticeable modification of their shape. In contrast, the anaesthetic reversibly decreased the slope of the peak Na conductance-voltage curve. 5. The reduction of the K current induced by alphaxalone was voltage-dependent with an apparent dissociation constant first decreasing from about 0.25 to 0.08 mM between -20 mV and +20 mV and then remaining constant above +20 mV. In contrast, the apparent dissociation constant for the Na current was almost constant with increasing voltages and equalled about 0.30 mM. Hill coefficient values for both K and Na currents were noticeably less than one. 6. It is concluded that, at higher concentrations than those attainable in the brain or in the plasma during surgical anaesthesia in man, alphaxalone has a 'local anaesthetic-like' action on the peripheral nervous system in that it specifically and differentially interacts with K and Na channel gating systems: it is suggested that the anaesthetic would preferentially modify open K and inactivated Na channels.[1]


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