Effects of non-electrolyte molecules with anesthetic activity on the physical properties of DMPC multilammelar liposomes

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24 Scopus citations


The effects of 13 non-electrolytes with moderate anesthetic potency on the order of DMPC liposomes were examined. Changes in order were monitored by steady-state fluorescence polarization techniques using 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) and 1-(4-trimethylammoniumphenyl)-6-phenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (TMA-DPH). At 30°C, all of the compounds tested decreased the DPH steady-state anisotropy (rs), with potencies highly correlated to their oil/water partition coefficients. However, only the most hydrophobic anesthetics decreased TMA-DPH rs. Some of the most hydrophilic compounds, including ethanol and urethane, actually increased TMA-DPH rs, suggestive of an increase in membrane order. The concept of selectivity was borrowed from partitioning theory and used to explain some effects on anesthetic potency of decreasing temperatures to 18°C. In the gel as opposed to the liquid crystalline phase, selectivity for decreasing membrane order (as monitored by DPH) markedly increased, suggesting that anesthetic partitioning and/or the site of anesthetic action was occurring in a more hydrophobic domain. The solute-independent difference (or capacity) between two membranes for perturbation was defined as membrane sensitivity. Sensitivity appeared to also decrease with decreasing temperature, despite the decrease in membrane partitioning. This effect is thought to result from the selective delivery of the anesthetic solute to the membrane interior and away from more hydrophilic domains where anesthetics may order membrane structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-211
Number of pages7
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 7 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • Ethanol
  • Fluorescence
  • Membrane
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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