The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Enhanced tonic inhibition influences the hypnotic and amnestic actions of the intravenous anesthetics etomidate and propofol.

PMID 23616535


Intravenous anesthetics exert a component of their actions via potentiating inhibitory neurotransmission mediated by γ-aminobutyric type-A receptors (GABAARs). Phasic and tonic inhibition is mediated by distinct populations of GABAARs, with the majority of phasic inhibition by subtypes composed of α1-3βγ2 subunits, whereas tonic inhibition is dependent on subtypes assembled from α4-6βδ subunits. To explore the contribution that these distinct forms of inhibition play in mediating intravenous anesthesia, we have used mice in which tyrosine residues 365/7 within the γ2 subunit are mutated to phenyalanines (Y365/7F). Here we demonstrate that this mutation leads to increased accumulation of the α4 subunit containing GABAARs in the thalamus and dentate gyrus of female Y365/7F but not male Y365/7F mice. Y365/7F mice exhibited a gender-specific enhancement of tonic inhibition in the dentate gyrus that was more sensitive to modulation by the anesthetic etomidate, together with a deficit in long-term potentiation. Consistent with this, female Y365/7F, but not male Y365/7F, mice exhibited a dramatic increase in the duration of etomidate- and propofol-mediated hypnosis. Moreover, the amnestic actions of etomidate were selectively potentiated in female Y365/7F mice. Collectively, these observations suggest that potentiation of tonic inhibition mediated by α4 subunit containing GABAARs contributes to the hypnotic and amnestic actions of the intravenous anesthetics, etomidate and propofol.

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Etomidate, >98% (HPLC), powder