Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
PZ HTL SA
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING LLC
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING LLC

Why Does Inhaling Anesthetics Cause Unconsciousness?

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 04 Apr 2012
Image: The effects of Halothane on lipid rafts (Photo courtesy of NIST).
Image: The effects of Halothane on lipid rafts (Photo courtesy of NIST).
A new study suggests that the answer to this age-old question may lie in the effect of anesthesia on the organization of lipids in the cell's outer membrane, potentially altering the ability to send signals along nerve cells.

Researchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD, USA) set out to find out how exactly inhaled anesthetics interact with protein ion channels--large proteins embedded in the relatively small lipid molecules forming the membrane--which are responsible for conducting electrical impulses along the myelin sheath of the nerve cells. They found that while a cell membrane is a highly fluid film made of many different kinds of lipid molecules, the region immediately surrounding an ion channel often consists of a single type of lipids that form a sort of "raft" that is more ordered and less fluid then the rest of the membrane.

When prior research demonstrated that disrupting these lipid rafts could affect a channel's function, the researchers conducted X-ray and neutron diffraction studies of a binary lipid membrane that demonstrated that halothane (at physiological concentrations) produces a pronounced redistribution of lipids between domains of different lipid types, as identified by different lamellar d-spacing and isotope composition. In contrast, dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane (F6), a halogenated nonanesthetic, does not produce such significant effects. According to the researchers, these findings demonstrate a specific effect of inhalational anesthetics on mixing phase equilibria of a lipid mixture. The study was published on February 21, 2012, in Langmuir.

“A better fundamental understanding of inhaled anesthetics could allow us to design better ones with fewer side effects,” concluded lead author Hirsh Nanda, PhD, and colleagues of the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). “How these chemicals work in the body is a scientific mystery that stretches back to the Civil War.”

Related Links:

US National Institute of Standards and Technology



comments powered by Disqus

Channels

Genomics/Proteomics

view channel
Image: This novel, flexible film that can react to light is a promising step toward an artificial retina (Photo courtesy of the American Chemical Society).

Novel Nanofilm May Be Artificial Retina Precursor

Researchers have used advanced nanotechnology techniques to develop a light-sensitive film that has potential for future artificial retina applications. Investigators at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem... Read more

Drug Discovery

view channel
Image: The new peptide offers a triple hormone effect in a single-cell molecule (Photo courtesy of Indiana University).

Tripeptide Drug Effectively Controls Metabolic Syndrome in Rodent Model

Promising results in reducing obesity and normalizing glucose metabolism obtained with a synthetic dipeptide drug have been enhanced by the addition of a molecule of a third hormone, glucagon.... Read more

Biochemistry

view channel

Blocking Enzyme Switch Turns Off Tumor Growth in T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Researchers recently reported that blocking the action of an enzyme “switch” needed to activate tumor growth is emerging as a practical strategy for treating T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. An estimated 25% of the 500 US adolescents and young adults diagnosed yearly with this aggressive disease fail to respond to... Read more

Business

view channel

R&D Partnership Initiated to Reduce Development Time for New Drugs

nanoPET Pharma, GmbH (Berlin, Germany) signed an open-ended framework contract with the international pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim (Ridgefield, CT, USA). By developing customized contrast agents for research in both basic and preclinical studies, nanoPET Pharma will contribute to the enhancement of Boehringer... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.