Inhaled Anesthetics and Immobility: Mechanisms, Mysteries, and Minimum Alveolar Anesthetic Concentration

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Studies using molecular modeling, genetic engineering, neurophysiology/pharmacology, and whole animals have advanced our understanding of where and how inhaled anesthetics act to produce immobility (minimum alveolar anesthetic concentration; MAC) by actions on the spinal cord. Numerous ligand- and voltage-gated channels might plausibly mediate MAC, and specific animo acid sites in certain receptors present likely candidates for mediation. However, in vivo studies to date suggest that several channels or receptors may not be mediators (e.g., γ-aminobutyric acid A, acetylcholine, potassium, 5-hydroxytryptamine-3, opioids, and α2-adrenergic), whereas other receptors/channels (e.g., glycine, N-methyl-d-aspartate, and sodium) remain credible candidates.

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