Oct 1, 1976

Molecular mechanisms of nerve block by local anesthetics

Anesthesiology
G Strichartz

Abstract

Local anesthetics block nerve conduction by preventing the increase in membrane permeability to sodium ions that normally leads to a nerve impulse. Among anesthetics containing tertiary amine groups, the cationic, protonated form appears to be more active than the neutral form. However, the neutral forms, as well as uncharged molecules like benzocaine and the aliphatic alcohols, also depress sodium permeability. Studies of single myelinated nerves and squid axons show no direct interaction between calcium ions and local anesthetics, thus disproving theories based on competition between these two agents. Likewise, hypotheses attributing local anesthesia to changes in electrical potentials at the membrane-water interface are disproven by the demonstrated potencies of electrically uncharged anesthetics. Hypotheses that propose that local anesthetics act by expanding the nerve membrane and causing a change in protein conformation that blocks sodium permeability are vague in conception and difficult to test experimentally. Evidence from voltage-clamp studies of single nerve fibers indicates that anesthetic molecules interact with the sodium channels directly, from the inner side of the nerve membrane. Anesthetics bind within sodium ...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Calcium
Resting Potentials
Synaptic Transmission
Motor Neurons
Receptors, Drug
Nerve Conduction Function
Topical anesthetic
Axon
Sodium
General Anesthesia

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