Enflurane directly depresses glutamate AMPA and NMDA currents in mouse spinal cord motor neurons independent of actions on GABAA or glycine receptors.Anesthesiology. 2000 Oct; 93(4):1075-84.A
The spinal cord is an important anatomic site at which volatile agents act to prevent movement in response to a noxious stimulus. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that enflurane acts directly on motor neurons to inhibit excitatory synaptic transmission at glutamate receptors.
Whole-cell recordings were made in visually identified motor neurons in spinal cord slices from 1- to 4-day-old mice. Excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) or potentials (EPSPs) were evoked by electrical stimulation of the dorsal root entry area or dorsal horn. The EPSCs were isolated pharmacologically into glutamate N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor- and non-NMDA receptor-mediated components by using selective antagonists. Currents also were evoked by brief pulse pressure ejection of glutamate under various conditions of pharmacologic blockade. Enflurane was made up as a saturated stock solution and diluted in the superfusate; concentrations were measured using gas chromatography.
Excitatory postsynaptic currents and EPSPs recorded from motor neurons by stimulation in the dorsal horn were mediated by glutamate receptors of both non-NMDA and NMDA subtypes. Enflurane at a general anesthetic concentration (one minimum alveolar anesthetic concentration) reversibly depressed EPSCs and EPSPs. Enflurane also depressed glutamate-evoked currents in the presence of tetrodotoxin (300 nm), showing that its actions are postsynaptic. Block of inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid A and glycine receptors by bicuculline (20 micrometer) or strychnine (2 micrometer) or both did not significantly reduce the effects of enflurane on glutamate-evoked currents. Enflurane also depressed glutamate-evoked currents if the inhibitory receptors were blocked and if either D,L-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (50 micrometer) or 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione disodium (10 micrometer) was applied to block NMDA or alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid-kainate receptors respectively.
Enflurane exerts direct depressant effects on both alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid and NMDA glutamate currents in motor neurons. Enhancement of gamma-aminobutyric acid A and glycine inhibition is not needed for this effect. Direct depression of glutamatergic excitatory transmission by a postsynaptic action on motor neurons thus may contribute to general anesthesia as defined by immobility in response to a noxious stimulus.