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Acid-Sensing Ion Channels and Pain
Open AccessReview

The Molecular Mechanisms of Anesthetic Action: Updates and Cutting Edge Developments from the Field of Molecular Modeling

Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, Co-Director of Operating Room and Intensive Care Services, Palo Alto VA Health Care System, 112A, PAVAHCS, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA
Pharmaceuticals 2010, 3(7), 2178-2196;
Received: 27 May 2010 / Revised: 10 June 2010 / Accepted: 6 July 2010 / Published: 8 July 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ion Channels as Therapeutic Targets for Pain)
For over 160 years, general anesthetics have been given for the relief of pain and suffering. While many theories of anesthetic action have been purported, it has become increasingly apparent that a significant molecular focus of anesthetic action lies within the family of ligand-gated ion channels (LGIC’s). These protein channels have a transmembrane region that is composed of a pentamer of four helix bundles, symmetrically arranged around a central pore for ion passage. While initial and some current models suggest a possible cavity for binding within this four helix bundle, newer calculations postulate that the actual cavity for anesthetic binding may exist between four helix bundles. In either scenario, these cavities have a transmembrane mode of access and may be partially bordered by lipid moieties. Their physicochemical nature is amphiphilic. Anesthetic binding may alter the overall motion of a ligand-gated ion channel by a “foot-in-door” motif, resulting in the higher likelihood of and greater time spent in a specific channel state. The overall gating motion of these channels is consistent with that shown in normal mode analyses carried out both in vacuo as well as in explicitly hydrated lipid bilayer models. Molecular docking and large scale molecular dynamics calculations may now begin to show a more exact mode by which anesthetic molecules actually localize themselves and bind to specific protein sites within LGIC’s, making the design of future improvements to anesthetic ligands a more realizable possibility. View Full-Text
Keywords: anesthesia; molecular mechanism; molecular modeling; computational chemistry anesthesia; molecular mechanism; molecular modeling; computational chemistry
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Bertaccini, E.J. The Molecular Mechanisms of Anesthetic Action: Updates and Cutting Edge Developments from the Field of Molecular Modeling. Pharmaceuticals 2010, 3, 2178-2196.

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