Actions of anesthetics on ligand-gated ion channels: Role of receptor subunit composition

R. Adron Harris, S. John Mihic, Jo Ellen Dildy-Mayfield, Tina K. Machu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Molecular cloning of cDNAs coding for ligand-gated ion channel subunits makes it possible to study the pharmacology of recombinant receptors with defined subunit compositions. Many laboratories have used these techniques recently to study actions of agents that produce general anesthesia. We review the effects of volatile and intravenous anesthetics on recombinant GABA(A), glycine, AMPA, kainate, NMDA, and 5HT3 receptors. Evidence for and against specific ligand-gated ion channel subunits as targets responsible for anesthesia or the side effects of anesthetic agents is discussed for each type of receptor. Subunit specific actions of some of the agents suggest that construction and testing of certain chimeric receptor subunits may be useful for defining the amino acid sequences responsible for anesthetic actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1462
Number of pages9
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1995


  • GABA
  • NMDA
  • alcohol
  • glutamate receptor
  • pentobarbital


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