The in vitro and in vivo enantio selectivity of etomidate implicates the GABA(A) receptor in general anaesthesia

D Belelli, A L Muntoni, S D Merrywest, L J Gentet, A Casula, H Callachan, P Madau, D K Gemmell, N M Hamilton, J J Lambert, K T Sillar, J A Peters

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63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

General anaesthetics exhibiting enantioselectivity afford valuable tools to assess the fundamental mechanisms underlying anaesthesia. Here, we characterised the actions of the R-(+)- and S-(-)-enantiomers of etomidate. In mice and tadpoles, R-(+)-etomidate was more potent (similar to10-fold) than S-(-)-etomidate in producing loss of the righting reflex. In electrophysiological and radioligand binding assays, the enantiomers of etomidate positively regulated GABA, receptor function at anaesthetic concentrations and with an enantioselectivity paralleling their in vivo activity. GABA-evoked currents mediated by human recombinant GABA(A) receptors were potentiated by either R-(+)- or S-(-)-etomidate in a manner dependent upon receptor subunit composition. A direct, GABA-mimetic, effect was similarly subunit dependent. Modulation of GABA receptor activity was selective; R-(+)-etomidate inhibited nicotinic acetylcholine, or 5-hydroxytryptamine(3) receptor subtypes only at supra-clinical concentrations and ionotropic glutamate receptor isoforms were essentially unaffected. Acting upon reticulothalamic neurones in rat brain slices, R-(+)-etomidate prolonged the duration of miniature IPSCs and modestly enhanced their peak amplitude. S-(-)-etomidate exerted qualitatively similar, but weaker, actions. In a model of locomotor activity, fictive swimming in Xenopus laevis tadpoles, R-(+)- but not S-(-)-etomidate exerted a depressant influence via enhancement of GABAergic neurotransmission. Collectively, these observations strongly implicate the GABA, receptor as a molecular target relevant to the anaesthetic action of etomidate. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages15
JournalNeuropharmacology
Volume45
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003

Keywords

  • general anaesthesia
  • GABA(A) receptor
  • etomidate
  • GABAergic inhibitory synaptic transmission
  • XENOPUS-LAEVIS OOCYTES
  • GATED ION CHANNELS
  • SINGLE AMINO-ACID
  • A RECEPTORS
  • HIPPOCAMPAL-NEURONS
  • NUCLEUS-RETICULARIS
  • OPTICAL ISOMERS
  • RELAY NEURONS
  • RAT
  • MODULATION

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