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Shaker-related potassium channels in the central medial nucleus of the thalamus are important molecular targets for arousal suppression by volatile general anesthetics.

Maria I Lioudyno, Alexandra M Birch, Brian S Tanaka, Yuri Sokolov, Alan L Goldin, K George Chandy, James E Hall, Michael T Alkire

J. Neurosci., 2013 Oct 9 , 33, 16310-22

The molecular targets and neural circuits that underlie general anesthesia are not fully elucidated. Here, we directly demonstrate that Kv1-family (Shaker-related) delayed rectifier K(+) channels in the central medial thalamic nucleus (CMT) are important targets for volatile anesthetics. The modulation of Kv1 channels by volatiles is network specific as microinfusion of ShK, a potent inhibitor of Kv1.1, Kv1.3, and Kv1.6 channels, into the CMT awakened sevoflurane-anesthetized rodents. In heterologous expression systems, sevoflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane at subsurgical concentrations potentiated delayed rectifier Kv1 channels at low depolarizing potentials. In mouse thalamic brain slices, sevoflurane inhibited firing frequency and delayed the onset of action potentials in CMT neurons, and ShK-186, a Kv1.3-selective inhibitor, prevented these effects. Our findings demonstrate the exquisite sensitivity of delayed rectifier Kv1 channels to modulation by volatile anesthetics and highlight an arousal suppressing role of Kv1 channels in CMT neurons during the process of anesthesia.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24107962