The action of ether and methoxyflurane on synaptic transmission in isolated preparations of the mammalian cortex

J Physiol. 1975 Jun;248(1):121-42. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1975.sp010965.


1. The actions of ether and methoxyflurane on the evoked potentials of in vitro preparations of the guinea-pig olfactory cortex were studied. Following stimulation of the lateral olfactory tract (l.o.t.) evoked potentials could be recorded from the cortical surface; these potentials consisted of an initial wave (the compound action potential of the l.o.t.) followed by a negative field potential which was associated with the synchronous excitation of many superficial excitatory synapses (population e.p.s.p.). Superimposed on the population e.p.s.p. was a number of positive peaks. These positive peaks reflect the synchronous discharge of many neurones and so have been called population spikes. 2. When ether or methoxyflurane was added to the gas stream that superfused the surface of the preparations, the population e.p.s.p.s. and population spikes were depressed at lower concentrations than those required to depress the compound action potential of the afferent fibres. 3. The evoked activity of individual cells in the cortex was depressed by ether and methoxyflurane. However, five of the twelve cells tested in ether showed an increase in their evoked activity at concentrations below 4-5%, but at higher concentrations these cells also became depressed. 4. Both ether and methoxyflurane depressed the sensitivity of cortical neurones to iontophoretically applied L-glutamate and may similarly depress the sensitivity of the post-synaptic membrane to the released transmitter substance. 5. Neither anaesthetic appeared to increase the threshold depolarization required for nerve impulse generation. Thus, the decrease of the discharge of the post-synaptic cells was primarily caused by a depression of chemical transmission. 6. Ether caused some cells in the cortex to alter their normal pattern of synaptically evoked discharge and both anaesthetics induced similar changes during excitation by glutamate.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Ether / pharmacology*
  • Ethyl Ethers / pharmacology*
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Guinea Pigs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Limbic System / drug effects*
  • Limbic System / physiology
  • Methoxyflurane / pharmacology*
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Ethyl Ethers
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Ether
  • Methoxyflurane