Interaction of anaesthetics with electrical synapses.
Studies of the interaction of anaesthetics with various preparations, from whole animals to organic solvents, have been continuing since Overton and Meyer found a correlation between anaesthetic potency and solubility in olive oil. Although the physiological basis of anaesthesia is far from clear, one popular hypothesis is that anaesthetics act primarily by interfering with the normal functioning of chemical synapses. This hypothesis is supported by experiments showing that these synapses are more sensitive to both local and general anaesthetics than are axons. The effects of anaesthetics on electrical synapses (gap-junctions or nexus) have not previously been studied. These ubiquitous structures, presumably responsible for cell-to-cell communication, are found in most vertebrate and invertebrate tissues. We report here the effects of several anaesthetics on electronic coupling between nerve cells, and show that electrical synapses are less sensitive to most anaesthetics than are chemical synapses and axonal membranes.
Johnston, MF; Simon, SA; Ramón, F
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