Mechanistic aspects of carbon monoxide formation from volatile anesthetics.
BACKGROUND: Desflurane, enflurane and isoflurane can be degraded to carbon monoxide (CO) by carbon dioxide absorbents, whereas sevoflurane and halothane form negligible amounts of CO. Carbon monoxide formation is greater with drier absorbent, and with barium hydroxide, than with soda lime. The mechanism, role of absorbent composition and water, and anesthetic structures determining CO formation are unknown. This investigation examined sequential steps in anesthetic degradation to CO. METHODS: Carbon monoxide formation from anesthetics and desiccated barium hydroxide lime or soda lime was determined at equimole and equiMAC concentrations. Carbon monoxide formation from deuterium-substituted anesthetics was also quantified. Proton abstraction from anesthetics by strong base was determined by deuterium isotope exchange. A reactive chemical intermediate was trapped and identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The source of the oxygen in CO was identified by 18O incorporation. RESULTS: Desflurane,enflurane,andisoflurane(difluoromethylethyl ethers), but not sevoflurane (monofluoromethyl ether), methoxyflurane (methy-ethyl ether), or halothane (alkane) were degraded to CO. The amount of CO formed was desflurane > or = enflurane > isoflurane at equiMAC and enflurane > desflurane > isoflurane at equimole concentrations. Proton abstraction from the difluoromethoxy carbon was greater with potassium than with sodium hydroxide, but unmeasurable with barium hydroxide. Carbon monoxide formation was correlated (r = 0.95-1.00) with difluoromethoxy (enflurane > desflurane > isoflurane > or = methoxyflurane = sevoflurane = 0) but not ethyl carbon proton abstraction. Deuterium substitution on enflurane and desflurane diminished CO formation. Chemical trapping showed formation of a difluorocarbene intermediate from enflurane and desflurane. Incorporation of H2(18)O in barium hydroxide lime resulted in C18O formation from unlabeled enflurane and desflurane. CONCLUSIONS: A difluoromethoxy group is a structural requirement for haloether degradation to CO. Results are consistent with initial base-catalyzed difluoromethoxy proton abstraction (potassium > sodium hydroxide, thus greater CO formation with barium hydroxide lime vs. soda lime) forming a carbanion (reprotonated by water to regenerate the anesthetic, hence requirements for relatively dry absorbent), carbanion decomposition to a difluorocarbene, and subsequent difluorocarbene reaction to form CO.
Baxter, PJ; Garton, K; Kharasch, ED
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