Anesthetics cause a reduction in excitatory neurotransmission that may be important in the mechanisms of in vivo anesthetic action.Because glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in mammalian brain, evaluation of anesthetic effects on induced glutamate release is relevant for studying this potential mechanism of anesthetic action. In the present study, we compared the effects of anesthetics and nonanesthetics (halogenated alkanes that disobey the Meyer-Overton hypothesis) on depolarization-evoked glutamate release. Glutamate released from rat cortical brain slices after chemically induced depolarization (50 mM KCl) was measured continuously using an enzymatic fluorescence assay. The effects of the volatile anesthetics isoflurane and enflurane were compared with the effects of the transitional compound 1,1,2-trichlorotrifluoroethane, the nonanesthetic compound 1,2-dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane, and other polyhalogenated alkanes. Tested concentrations included effective anesthetic concentrations for the anesthetics and transitional compounds, and concentrations predicted to be anesthetic based on lipid solubility for the nonanesthetics. Isoflurane dose-dependently reduced depolarization-evoked glutamate release in cortical brain slices. Isoflurane and enflurane at concentrations equivalent to 1 minimum alveolar anesthetic concentration (MAC) reduced the KCl-evoked release to 20% and 17% of control, respectively. The transitional compound 1,1,2-trichlorotrifluoroethane at 210 [micro sign]M (approximately 1.2 MAC) reduced glutamate release to 47%, and the nonanesthetic 1,2-dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane increased glutamate release at 70 [micro sign]M (approximately 3 MAC). These findings support the hypothesis that the modulation of excitatory neurotransmission might be responsible, in part, for in vivo anesthetic action. Implications: The volatile anesthetics isoflurane and enflurane reduce depolarization-evoked glutamate release in rat brain slices. The transitional compound 1,1,2-trichlorotrifluoroethane reduces glutamate release to a much lesser extent, and the non-anesthetic 1,2-dichlorohexafluorocyclobutane does not reduce glutamate release. These findings support the hypothesis that the modulation of excitatory neurotransmission might be responsible, in part, for in vivo anesthetic action.
(Anesth Analg 1999;88:1168-74)