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Molecular and cellular mechanisms of general anaesthesia

Nature volume 367, pages 607614 (17 February 1994) | Download Citation

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Abstract

General anaesthetics are much more selective than is usually appreciated and may act by binding to only a small number of targets in the central nervous system. At surgical concentrations their principal effects are on ligand-gated (rather than voltage-gated) ion channels, with potentiation of postsynaptic inhibitory channel activity best fitting the pharmacological profile observed in general anaesthesia. Although the role of second messengers remains uncertain, it is now clear that anaesthetics act directly on proteins rather than on lipids.

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  1. Biophysics Section, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ, UK.

    • N. P. Franks
    •  & W. R. Lieb

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