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Hydrocarbon molar water solubility predicts NMDA vs. GABAA receptor modulation.

  • Author(s): Brosnan, Robert J
  • Pham, Trung L
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

Many anesthetics modulate 3-transmembrane (such as NMDA) and 4-transmembrane (such as GABAA) receptors. Clinical and experimental anesthetics exhibiting receptor family specificity often have low water solubility. We hypothesized that the molar water solubility of a hydrocarbon could be used to predict receptor modulation in vitro.

Methods

GABAA (α1β2γ2s) or NMDA (NR1/NR2A) receptors were expressed in oocytes and studied using standard two-electrode voltage clamp techniques. Hydrocarbons from 14 different organic functional groups were studied at saturated concentrations, and compounds within each group differed only by the carbon number at the ω-position or within a saturated ring. An effect on GABAA or NMDA receptors was defined as a 10% or greater reversible current change from baseline that was statistically different from zero.

Results

Hydrocarbon moieties potentiated GABAA and inhibited NMDA receptor currents with at least some members from each functional group modulating both receptor types. A water solubility cut-off for NMDA receptors occurred at 1.1 mM with a 95% CI = 0.45 to 2.8 mM. NMDA receptor cut-off effects were not well correlated with hydrocarbon chain length or molecular volume. No cut-off was observed for GABAA receptors within the solubility range of hydrocarbons studied.

Conclusions

Hydrocarbon modulation of NMDA receptor function exhibits a molar water solubility cut-off. Differences between unrelated receptor cut-off values suggest that the number, affinity, or efficacy of protein-hydrocarbon interactions at these sites likely differ.

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