Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences

    The effects of fourteen halogenated ethers on the sodium and potassium currents of voltage-clamped squid giant axons have been examined. Effects under open-circuit were also studied. In voltage-clamped axons, the ethers tended to reduce potassium currents at least as much, if not more, than sodium currents. This finding distinguishes the halogenated ethers from many other general anaesthetics. Certain, but not all, halogenated ethers induced a pronounced maximum in potassium current traces as a function of time. This property can be formally described if an inactivation term is added to the Hodgkin– Huxley equation for potassium currents. Large shifts in the sodium-current inactivation parameter h were produced in some instances. Two fully halogenated methyl ethyl ethers, known to produce convulsions in mice, depressed both sodium and potassium currents, but with a very slow time course of action. The electrophysiological effects of the halogenated ethers investigated appear to depend on the position and number of hydrogen bonds that can be formed.

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