Anesthesia, long considered a blessing to patients and surgeons, has been a mystery for much of its 160-plus-year history in the operating room.
This is a schematic of a lipid bilayer representing a simple cell membrane. A new study in The Journal of General Physiology shows that activity of ion channel proteins, which are important for cell-to-cell communication, is markedly reduced during anesthesia.
Credit: Dr. Olaf Andersen
Volatile anesthetics inhibit sodium channels without altering bulk lipid bilayer properties. Herold, K.F., et al. 2014. J. Gen. Physiol. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201411172