The ability of a diverse group of agents to produce general anesthesia has long been an area of intense speculation and investigation. Over the past century, we have seen a paradigm shift from proposing that the anesthetized state arises from nonspecific interaction of anesthetics with the lipid membrane to the recognition that the function of distinct, and identifiable, membrane-embedded proteins is dramatically altered in the presence of intravenous and inhaled agents. Among proteinaceous targets, metabotropic and ionotropic receptors garnered much of the attention over the last 30 years, and it is only relatively recently that voltage-gated ion channels have clearly and rigorously been shown to be important molecular targets. In this review, we will consider the experimental issues relevant to two important ion channel anesthetic targets, HCN and K2P.
Keywords: Anesthetic mechanisms; HCN channel; Heterologous expression; K(2P) channel; Patch clamp; Two-electrode voltage clamp.
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