Free
Special Articles  |   May 2001
Relevant Concentrations of Inhaled Anesthetics for In Vitro  Studies of Anesthetic Mechanisms
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Edmond I Eger, M.D.
    *
  • Dennis M. Fisher, M.D.
  • James P. Dilger, Ph.D.
  • James M. Sonner, M.D.
    §
  • Alex Evers, M.D.
  • Nick P. Franks, Ph.D.
    #
  • R. Adron Harris, Ph.D.
    **
  • Joan J. Kendig, Ph.D.
    ††
  • William R. Lieb, Ph.D.
    ‡‡
  • Tomohiro Yamakura, M.D.
    §§
  • * Professor, § Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California. † Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California. Current position: Vice President for Medical Affairs, Durect Corporation, Cupertino, California. ‡ Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York. ∥ Professor and Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. # Professor and Head, ‡‡ Professorial Research Fellow, Biophysics Section, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, London, United Kingdom. ** Professor, §§ Research Fellow, University of Texas, Austin, Texas. †† Professor, Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
  • Received from the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco, California.
Article Information
Special Articles
Special Articles   |   May 2001
Relevant Concentrations of Inhaled Anesthetics for In Vitro  Studies of Anesthetic Mechanisms
Anesthesiology 5 2001, Vol.94, 915-921. doi:
Anesthesiology 5 2001, Vol.94, 915-921. doi:
UNDERSTANDING how anesthetics act requires a synthesis of information from in vitro  (molecular, receptor, and neuronal systems) and in vivo  (whole animal) studies. Most investigators argue that only anesthetic concentrations required for clinical anesthesia (e.g.  , 0.2–2.0 minimum alveolar concentration [MAC]) are relevant to in vitro  studies of anesthetic mechanisms. In a previous report in this journal, Eckenhoff and Johansson 1 supplied several arguments for potential relevance to effects produced by any concentration, even concentrations far above the clinical range. In the current article, we conclude that only concentrations close to the clinical range are relevant to in vitro  studies of anesthetic mechanisms. A Glossary of the several acronyms used in this article is supplied at the end of the article.
Eckenhoff and Johansson 1 offered a simple model in which the additive effects of anesthetics on different target molecules produce anesthesia. They found that if 10 receptors each have an EC50of 1 unit (actual units are not relevant here) in vitro  , then the combined in vivo  effect occurs at a concentration of approximately 0.1 units, and the concentration–effect relation for the combined effect is steeper than for the individual in vitro  concentration–effect relations. They found that this steepness approaches the steepness for concentration–effect relations for MAC. 2–6 Such steepness is well illustrated with halothane 2–6 : approximately 90% of patients move in response to incision at halothane concentrations below 0.72%, whereas only 10% move at concentrations exceeding 0.77% (fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Five studies 2–6 of the MAC for halothane supply the 97 values for this graph. Each value provides the end-tidal halothane concentration for a single patient and indicates whether that patient moved (lower points) or did not move (upper points). At less than 0.72% halothane, 90% of patients moved, and at greater than 0.77%, 90% did not move. The continuous line indicates the results of a logistic regression analysis of these data.
Fig. 1. Five studies 2–6of the MAC for halothane supply the 97 values for this graph. Each value provides the end-tidal halothane concentration for a single patient and indicates whether that patient moved (lower points) or did not move (upper points). At less than 0.72% halothane, 90% of patients moved, and at greater than 0.77%, 90% did not move. The continuous line indicates the results of a logistic regression analysis of these data.
Fig. 1. Five studies 2–6 of the MAC for halothane supply the 97 values for this graph. Each value provides the end-tidal halothane concentration for a single patient and indicates whether that patient moved (lower points) or did not move (upper points). At less than 0.72% halothane, 90% of patients moved, and at greater than 0.77%, 90% did not move. The continuous line indicates the results of a logistic regression analysis of these data.
×
The conclusions of Eckenhoff and Johansson 1 may be questioned on two grounds. First, they assume that the total response of multiple effects is obtained by simple (parallel) addition. This has the perplexing result that the combined maximum effect is greater than 1.0. Second, their analyses fit a sigmoid curve to those data points less than 1.0 only. The resulting fit (forced to a maximum possible effect [Emax]= 1.0) poorly describes the data. In fact, if the data are normalized to Emax = 1, the slope equals that of a single receptor. The model in 1considers sequential rather than parallel additivity and also predicts only small increases in steepness for multiple sites. 2introduces the concept of threshold to better understand the relation between receptor and population sensitivities to anesthetics.
The present article considers the concentrations relevant to in vitro  studies of the mechanisms underlying one individual anesthetic effect, namely, immobilization. First, we examine the thesis that the additive effect of multiple receptors can produce concentration–effect responses similar to those found in the determination of MAC. We conclude that the steepness of the slope defining MAC results from the limited variations in individual responses to anesthetics and likely reflects a small number of target sites. Franks and Lieb 7 reached a similar conclusion regarding the number of target sites based on results of studies of stereospecificity. Second, we consider whether in vitro  studies of receptor effects should restrict the anesthetic concentrations applied to those that are clinically relevant. We conclude that they should.
Receptor concentration–effect relations 8–16 produce shallower curves than found for MAC determinations. For example, the concentration–effect relation for γ-aminobutyric acid receptor type A (GABAA) and acetylcholine receptors goes from 10 to 90% of the maximum effect in one to two orders of magnitude (10- to 100-fold) change in concentration (fig. 2).
Fig. 2. Both γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 17 and acetylcholine 8 act on ligand-gated ion channel receptors thought to be potential mediators of anesthetic action. The data for GABA were obtained for GABA applied to α2β1receptors in Xenopus  oocytes. Similarly, the data for acetylcholine were obtained for neuronal acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. The concentration causing a 90% change in receptor function is 10- to 100-fold larger than the concentration causing a 10% change. That is, the anesthetic concentration–effect relations for these receptors (to enhance the action of GABA and depress the action of acetylcholine) are less steep than the population concentration–effect relation that underlies MAC (fig. 1).
Fig. 2. Both γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 17and acetylcholine 8act on ligand-gated ion channel receptors thought to be potential mediators of anesthetic action. The data for GABA were obtained for GABA applied to α2β1receptors in Xenopus 
	oocytes. Similarly, the data for acetylcholine were obtained for neuronal acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus 
	oocytes. The concentration causing a 90% change in receptor function is 10- to 100-fold larger than the concentration causing a 10% change. That is, the anesthetic concentration–effect relations for these receptors (to enhance the action of GABA and depress the action of acetylcholine) are less steep than the population concentration–effect relation that underlies MAC (fig. 1).
Fig. 2. Both γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 17 and acetylcholine 8 act on ligand-gated ion channel receptors thought to be potential mediators of anesthetic action. The data for GABA were obtained for GABA applied to α2β1receptors in Xenopus  oocytes. Similarly, the data for acetylcholine were obtained for neuronal acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. The concentration causing a 90% change in receptor function is 10- to 100-fold larger than the concentration causing a 10% change. That is, the anesthetic concentration–effect relations for these receptors (to enhance the action of GABA and depress the action of acetylcholine) are less steep than the population concentration–effect relation that underlies MAC (fig. 1).
×
How might these in vitro  shallow concentration–effect curves produce the in vivo  steep concentration–effect curves for MAC? Eckenhoff and Johansson 1 suggested that “the most plausible explanation for such highly conserved sensitivity to general anesthetics (i.e.  , the steepness of MAC concentration–effect curves) is that there are multiple contributing systems, each of which might be influenced to only a small degree by the anesthetic.”1 The steepness of the population curves that underlie MAC might be “explained by progressive, simultaneous actions at many targets of comparable sensitivity.” Eckenhoff and Johansson 1 suggested that we can convert the relatively shallow receptor–concentration effect relations for a single receptor to steeper concentration–effect relations by adding the receptor–concentration effects of several different receptors. Furthermore, they argued that the steeper combined concentration–effect curve shifts markedly to the left of the individual curves.
Some data are inconsistent with this interpretation of the additive (perhaps more correctly, parallel) interaction of multiple receptors. Several receptor concentration–effect relations occur in the clinically relevant range. 8–17 For example, the response of GABAAor acetylcholine receptors to inhaled anesthetics occurs primarily in the range of 0.2–1.5 MAC of these anesthetics (fig. 2). If immobility results from an action on several molecular targets having the same anesthetic dose–effect curve, and if each equally could mediate anesthesia, then their combined effect will be to produce immobility at a lower partial pressure than their individual EC50values (the more targets, the lower the MAC). Several molecular targets (GABAA, glycine, glutamate, and acetylcholine) have roughly the same shape and position (EC50values near MAC) for anesthetic concentration–effect curves. Therefore, either their combined effect is irrelevant to anesthesia (i.e.  , MAC is too close in position to the EC50values of the individual targets) or the original argument about multiple targets being responsible for anesthesia is wrong (only one or a very few specific targets are relevant, but multiple targets are not relevant).
However, consistent with the Eckenhoff-Johansson 1 argument, some in vitro  systems respond only at concentrations several-fold greater than 1.5 MAC. 7 Can the additive interaction of two systems, one of which responds in the clinically relevant range, the other of which requires a higher concentration, each materially influence anesthesia? Evaluation of this question requires the mathematical exploration of the additive interaction of two or more receptors.
In our analysis (1), as the number of involved receptors (m or n) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens (fig. 3). The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. Although Eckenhoff and Johansson suggested that the presence of multiple equipotent receptors (each with an Rγ of 1.0) markedly steepens the concentration–effect relation, our analysis produces a value for the Hill coefficient for the receptor concentration–effect relation (Rγ) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the values of 6–20+ for the Hill coefficient for population concentration–effect relation (Pγ) found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e.  , it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
Fig. 3. The anesthetic concentration–effect relations seen in figure 2for a receptor or for receptor combinations can be modeled by a curve defined byequation 4(1). In the current example, all of the receptors have the same REC50(0.3 mm). As n (the number of independent receptors) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens. The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. This analysis produces a value for Rγ (the Hill coefficient) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the Rγ values of 6–20+ found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e.  , it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
Fig. 3. The anesthetic concentration–effect relations seen in figure 2for a receptor or for receptor combinations can be modeled by a curve defined byequation 4(Appendix A). In the current example, all of the receptors have the same REC50(0.3 mm). As n (the number of independent receptors) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens. The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. This analysis produces a value for Rγ (the Hill coefficient) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the Rγ values of 6–20+ found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e. 
	, it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
Fig. 3. The anesthetic concentration–effect relations seen in figure 2for a receptor or for receptor combinations can be modeled by a curve defined byequation 4(1). In the current example, all of the receptors have the same REC50(0.3 mm). As n (the number of independent receptors) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens. The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. This analysis produces a value for Rγ (the Hill coefficient) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the Rγ values of 6–20+ found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e.  , it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
×
The large leftward shift also appears to present a conflict. The shift means that the 50% effect point defining MAC would be achieved at a concentration much below individual receptor EC50values (REC50values). Such a relation is unusual (e.g.  , see fig. 2). The REC50for most receptor–concentration effect curves lies close to MAC, not an order of magnitude or more to the right. 8–16 Therefore, the similarity of MAC to the REC50for receptor systems, believed to be clinically important, speaks against anesthesia resulting from additive effects of multiple receptors with similar REC50values.
Now consider receptors having different REC50values. Consider the cooperation of two receptors, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm. Applying equation 1from 1to these data but allowing for the different values for REC50results in a combined effect with an EC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1 (fig. 4). Although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect (i.e.  , it decreases EC50from the value for the other receptor from 0.3 mm to a combined value of 0.25 mm), the effect on position and steepness is small.
Fig. 4. Figure 3assumed an identical REC50(0.3 mm) and Hill coefficient (an Rγ of 1.0) for all of the different receptors whose effects were added to produce a combined effect. Here the combined effect of two receptors is illustrated, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, and the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm, both having an Rγ of 1 (see equation 5in 1). The combined effect has an REC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1. Thus, although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect, the effect is minimal both in the shift of the REC50and the steepening of the resulting curve.
Fig. 4. Figure 3assumed an identical REC50(0.3 mm) and Hill coefficient (an Rγ of 1.0) for all of the different receptors whose effects were added to produce a combined effect. Here the combined effect of two receptors is illustrated, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, and the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm, both having an Rγ of 1 (see equation 5in Appendix A). The combined effect has an REC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1. Thus, although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect, the effect is minimal both in the shift of the REC50and the steepening of the resulting curve.
Fig. 4. Figure 3assumed an identical REC50(0.3 mm) and Hill coefficient (an Rγ of 1.0) for all of the different receptors whose effects were added to produce a combined effect. Here the combined effect of two receptors is illustrated, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, and the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm, both having an Rγ of 1 (see equation 5in 1). The combined effect has an REC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1. Thus, although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect, the effect is minimal both in the shift of the REC50and the steepening of the resulting curve.
×
Another scenario requiring exploration involves individual receptors each having steeper concentration–effect relations than shown in figure 2, e.g.  , having an Rγ value of 2.0. Applying a variation of equation 4demonstrates that the additive combination of receptors yields a concentration–effect relation with an Rγ larger than 2.0 (data not shown). However, although the combined Rγ increases, the increase is small.
The preceding arguments regarding the interaction of receptors do not explain the steepness of the MAC relation. They are consistent with the notion that receptors that might mediate anesthetic effects will be altered by clinically relevant concentrations of anesthetics.
As Eckenhoff and Johansson 1 observed, the categoric (yes–no) nature of the measurement underlying MAC has been invoked to explain the steepness of the population concentration–effect relation. At MAC, visible movement in response to a noxious stimulus ceases. A graded depression of synaptic excitatory transmission to motor neurons underlies this quantal response. The translation of this graded depression into failure of impulse generation that occurs when the excitatory input falls below a threshold contributes to the abruptness of cessation of movement. Thus, shallow dose–response curves for individual receptors becomes steep curves for in vivo  responses when a threshold is involved. Below the threshold concentration, subjects move in response to stimulation, and above this concentration they do not move. The resulting concentration–effect relation for MAC for each individual will be infinitely steep regardless of the steepness of the concentration–effect curve for the receptor(s) mediating MAC, and if all individuals are identical, then the population concentration–effect relation would also be infinitely steep.
Two factors may decrease this steepness of the population concentration–effect relation. The first is measurement error. The analyzers used to determine anesthetic concentrations produce values that may err, usually by only a small amount. Rounding errors add to the inaccuracy (e.g.  , analyzers rounding to the nearest tenth of a percent may differ by several hundredths of a percent from the true value). End-tidal samples may not accurately reflect alveolar anesthetic partial pressures, and end tidal to arterial partial pressure differences can exist and can vary among populations. 18,19 Such factors add variability to the response, thereby flattening the resulting MAC concentration–effect relation.
Variations within and among individuals provide a second factor that may decrease the steepness of the population concentration–effect relation that produces MAC. Antognini et al.  20 reported findings consistent with variations in receptor sensitivity within an individual. They found that the vigor of muscular response to a noxious stimulus progressively decreases over the anesthetic concentration range below the concentration that causes the suppression of response. Differences among individuals also may alter individual responses. These include differences in age, 21,22 body temperature, 23 central nervous system sodium concentrations, 24 hormonal changes, 25 and circadian rhythms. 26 
Variations within an individual or differences among individuals may reflect differences in receptor responses of individuals to anesthetics. Various receptors, one or more of which might mediate the effects of anesthetics, underlie the function of the central nervous system. Receptors of a given class (e.g.  , GABAAreceptors) may all respond to a specific ligand, but the response may vary (even for a recombinant receptor expressed in relatively homogeneous cell populations, such as Xenopus  oocytes) because of differences in cellular conditions. In addition, the effects of anesthetics may differ as a function of the subunits comprising the receptor. For example, oocytes injected with RNA prompting the production of acetylcholine receptors can vary in their response to acetylcholine and can alter the depression of this response by isoflurane administration (figs. 5A–C;figs. 5A and 5Bare approximations to unpublished data from Tomohiro Yamakura). How might such variations affect the steepness of population responses?
Fig. 5. Isoflurane decreases the response to acetylcholine of α4β2acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. (A  ) Fractional decrease in a single preparation. The shallowness of the isoflurane concentration–effect curve (Rγ slightly more than 1) bears no necessary relation to the steepness (Pγ) of the population concentration–effect relation that the receptor may mediate. Assuming, for example, that anything less than a 50% (0.5 fraction) depression allows movement in response to incision and that more than 50% prevents movement, the resulting population concentration–effect relation is infinitely steep (D  ; the relation is approximated by a curve with a Pγ of 100). But if receptors differ among humans and if the boundary between movement–no movement remains at 50%, then the population concentration–effect relation becomes less steep (B  ). At concentration A in (B  ), 100% of patients would move with incision; at B, 67% would move; at C, 33%; and at D, none would move. Although the resulting concentration–effect curve (D  ) is steep (Pγ of 10, a value found in MAC studies, see fig. 1), it is not infinitely steep. If the receptor concentration–effect curves are distributed more broadly [C  ; points A, B, C, and D have the same meaning as in (B  )], the resulting population concentration–effect curve is still less steep (Pγ 2.5) (D  ). The points (diamonds, triangles, and circles) were obtained by calculating the fraction of patients that would be immobile at 10, 20, 30, 40, etc.  μm isoflurane.
Fig. 5. Isoflurane decreases the response to acetylcholine of α4β2acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus 
	oocytes. (A 
	) Fractional decrease in a single preparation. The shallowness of the isoflurane concentration–effect curve (Rγ slightly more than 1) bears no necessary relation to the steepness (Pγ) of the population concentration–effect relation that the receptor may mediate. Assuming, for example, that anything less than a 50% (0.5 fraction) depression allows movement in response to incision and that more than 50% prevents movement, the resulting population concentration–effect relation is infinitely steep (D 
	; the relation is approximated by a curve with a Pγ of 100). But if receptors differ among humans and if the boundary between movement–no movement remains at 50%, then the population concentration–effect relation becomes less steep (B 
	). At concentration A in (B 
	), 100% of patients would move with incision; at B, 67% would move; at C, 33%; and at D, none would move. Although the resulting concentration–effect curve (D 
	) is steep (Pγ of 10, a value found in MAC studies, see fig. 1), it is not infinitely steep. If the receptor concentration–effect curves are distributed more broadly [C 
	; points A, B, C, and D have the same meaning as in (B 
	)], the resulting population concentration–effect curve is still less steep (Pγ 2.5) (D 
	). The points (diamonds, triangles, and circles) were obtained by calculating the fraction of patients that would be immobile at 10, 20, 30, 40, etc. 
	μm isoflurane.
Fig. 5. Isoflurane decreases the response to acetylcholine of α4β2acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. (A  ) Fractional decrease in a single preparation. The shallowness of the isoflurane concentration–effect curve (Rγ slightly more than 1) bears no necessary relation to the steepness (Pγ) of the population concentration–effect relation that the receptor may mediate. Assuming, for example, that anything less than a 50% (0.5 fraction) depression allows movement in response to incision and that more than 50% prevents movement, the resulting population concentration–effect relation is infinitely steep (D  ; the relation is approximated by a curve with a Pγ of 100). But if receptors differ among humans and if the boundary between movement–no movement remains at 50%, then the population concentration–effect relation becomes less steep (B  ). At concentration A in (B  ), 100% of patients would move with incision; at B, 67% would move; at C, 33%; and at D, none would move. Although the resulting concentration–effect curve (D  ) is steep (Pγ of 10, a value found in MAC studies, see fig. 1), it is not infinitely steep. If the receptor concentration–effect curves are distributed more broadly [C  ; points A, B, C, and D have the same meaning as in (B  )], the resulting population concentration–effect curve is still less steep (Pγ 2.5) (D  ). The points (diamonds, triangles, and circles) were obtained by calculating the fraction of patients that would be immobile at 10, 20, 30, 40, etc.  μm isoflurane.
×
Figure 5Aillustrates the depression of the response to acetylcholine in a single oocyte. Assume that patient movement might occur in response to surgical stimulation up to some fixed fraction of the maximal depression (zero response to acetylcholine). For the present, assume this fraction to be 0.5 (i.e.  , 50% depression). Thus, all patients represented by this oocyte would move at anesthetic concentrations up to the concentration indicated by arrow “A,” and no one would move at higher concentrations. Although isoflurane progressively depresses the receptor, producing a relatively shallow relation (Rγ slightly greater than 1), the quantal concentration–effect curve is infinitely steep, approximated in the present example by a sigmoid curve with a Pγ of 100 (fig. 5D).
Examination of several oocytes possessing acetylcholine receptors reveals that depression produced by isoflurane varies (fig. 5B): the curves are parallel but differ in position. For a quantal analysis (i.e.  , Y-values > 0.5 produce movement; those < 0.5 do not), all oocytes (patients) respond to a stimulus (move) at concentration A, 67% at B, 33% at C, and none at D. A sigmoid curve fit to the plot of the percent responding versus  concentration yields a value for Pγ of 10 (fig. 5D), a steepness observed in studies of MAC in humans. Thus, variability in receptor–effect response to anesthetics might be similar to that shown in fig. 5B. A larger interindividual variability ( e.g. , fig. 5C) produces a Pγ of 2.5 (fig. 5D), a smaller value than found in studies of MAC.
Different receptors with different concentration–effect relations might act together to produce anesthesia and thereby might produce the larger range illustrated in figure 5C. But again, the quantal–effect curve would be flatter than actually found for MAC. In addition, if effects of two or more receptors added to produce anesthesia, the resulting concentration–effect relation would incorporate the variability of each receptor. If figure 5Bapproximates such variability, the combined variability might be similar to that displayed in figure 5C. Thus, a quantal analysis involving several receptors would probably yield a shallower concentration–response relation and a lower Pγ than one involving a single receptor. This suggests that only one or two receptors (not several receptors) are likely to mediate anesthesia.
The semiquantitative analysis shown in figure 5can be refined with numerical simulations (2) to supply further insights into what concentrations are relevant for studies of anesthetic mechanisms in receptors. The simulations assume that anesthetics bind to receptors to produce their effects. Anesthesia occurs in an individual when more than a certain fraction of receptors, T (the threshold), are bound. These assumptions and the Hill equation may be used to explore the relation between anesthetic concentration (DC) and anesthetic effects. For a given anesthetic concentration, the sensitivity of target receptors (REC50) and the Hill coefficient (Rγ) determine the fraction of receptors occupied. Individuals may differ in their REC50or their T. We quantify the differences among individuals in REC50and threshold by the standard deviation of REC50(RSD) and T (TSD). This permits us to simulate how anesthetic concentration is related to anesthetic effect in receptors versus  human populations.
The simulations compute the fraction of receptors occupied for each value of T and REC50for all T and REC50values in the population as specified by TSDand RSD, and then determine for each T and REC50whether the computed fraction of receptors produces anesthesia (i.e.  , exceeds T). Thus, categoric data (yes anesthesia occurs–no it does not) are derived from the Hill equation for a range of anesthetic concentrations and T, REC50, and Rγ values. Logistic regression is then used to compute the population response to anesthetic (i.e.  , we compute PED50and Pγ). The complex relation among the variables will be described in detail elsewhere.
What range of receptor REC50values can account for human anesthesia? Can receptors with EC50values different from MAC produce population responses similar to those observed in humans? A highly sensitive receptor (REC50<< PEC50) can generate the human results only if the threshold, T, is high (fig. 6), and a receptor with low sensitivity (REC50>> PEC50) can generate the human results only if T is low (fig. 6). What higher or lower T values are reasonable? With T less than 0.1 or greater than 0.9 and Rγ (the receptor Hill coefficient) between 1 and 2, TSDbecomes smaller (< 3–5%; results from simulations, not shown) than values normally encountered in biologic systems. Thus, at T less than 0.1 or greater than 0.9, Rγ likely exceeds 2, again a larger value than normally encountered.
Fig. 6. Can molecular targets having REC50values different from MAC give rise to the observed population response curves for human anesthesia? A target having “super sensitivity” to anesthetics (REC50< PEC50) could do so only if the threshold were high. Similarly, a target that was relatively insensitive to anesthetics (REC50> PEC50) would require a low threshold value. This analysis suggests that the REC50probably lies within a factor of 3 of the PEC50(dashed vertical lines).
Fig. 6. Can molecular targets having REC50values different from MAC give rise to the observed population response curves for human anesthesia? A target having “super sensitivity” to anesthetics (REC50< PEC50) could do so only if the threshold were high. Similarly, a target that was relatively insensitive to anesthetics (REC50> PEC50) would require a low threshold value. This analysis suggests that the REC50probably lies within a factor of 3 of the PEC50(dashed vertical lines).
Fig. 6. Can molecular targets having REC50values different from MAC give rise to the observed population response curves for human anesthesia? A target having “super sensitivity” to anesthetics (REC50< PEC50) could do so only if the threshold were high. Similarly, a target that was relatively insensitive to anesthetics (REC50> PEC50) would require a low threshold value. This analysis suggests that the REC50probably lies within a factor of 3 of the PEC50(dashed vertical lines).
×
We suggest that T lies within 0.1–0.9. If Rγ equals 1, REC50may be 10 times higher or lower than the PEC50for anesthesia. The range decreases when Rγ is greater than 1. As previously noted, for values of T less than 0.1 or greater than 0.9, Rγ probably exceeds 2. Given these thoughts, we conclude that PEC50and REC50likely lie within a factor of 3 of each other, as denoted by the dashed lines in figure 6. That is, relevant concentrations for studies of anesthetic effects on receptors that mediate anesthesia are not expected to differ from clinically relevant concentrations by more than a factor of 3.
There is an important caveat for our analyses. We assumed a linear relation between anesthetic interaction with the receptor target and the anesthetic response of the whole organism. There is an incredible complexity of neuronal architecture, circuitry, and structure that determines the impact of receptor effects of anesthetics on in vivo  response (movement). Nonlinearities, including thresholds, amplification, and feedback, exist in biological systems and may obscure the true association between sensitivity of the receptor target and sensitivity of the organism to anesthetics. And interindividual variability will accompany each additional step in the association and will tend to decrease the steepness of the population concentration–response curve.
In summary, several observations support the intuitive view that relevant concentrations for receptor–concentration effects lie near those that produce anesthesia in vivo  . Far larger concentrations would lie on the flat portions of receptor concentration–effect relations and thus would be more affected by variability in receptor responsiveness, producing concentration–effect relations different from those found for MAC (fig. 1). Similarly, steeper receptor concentration–effect relations minimize the effect of variability on the population concentration–effect curves underlying MAC, and steeper portions of receptor concentration–effect relations usually lie close to MAC (e.g.  , see fig. 2). In addition, some theoretical considerations that might convert a shallow receptor–concentration effect curve to a steep in vivo  (MAC) curve have limitations. Adding anesthetic effects of several receptors to produce a combined effect only marginally steepens the combined receptor–effect curve (fig. 3). The combined concentration–effect curve for several receptors having the same EC50would shift to the left of the concentration–effect curve for MAC, suggesting that, at most, only a few receptor–effect curves might be combined to produce MAC. Finally, in a combined concentration–effect curve for receptors having disparate EC50values, the receptor having the lowest EC50value (the more sensitive receptor) dominates the combined effect (fig. 4).
We conclude that (1) relevant concentrations for studies of anesthetic effects on the receptors (or interneuronal pathways) that mediate anesthesia probably do not differ markedly from concentrations required to produce anesthesia; (2) relevant concentrations are more likely to be close to the steeper portions of receptor concentration–effect curves. Furthermore, if models of additivity of receptors reflect the interaction of anesthetic sensitive receptors: (3) only one or two receptors are likely to mediate a specific anesthetic effect (immobility, amnesia); and (4) in a combined concentration–effect curve for receptors having disparate EC50values, the receptor having the lowest EC50value dominates the combined effect.
Glossary
DC Drug concentration. E Effect of a given agonist. EC50The agonist drug or anesthetic concentration producing a 50% effect. Emax The maximum effect produced by a given agonist. MAC The minimum alveolar concentration of inhaled anesthetic required to suppress movement in 50% of subjects in response to a noxious stimulus ( i.e. , an anesthetic EC50). m or n Number of independent receptors. Pγ The Hill coefficient (γ) that describes the steepness of the concentration–effect relation for a population. The bigger the number, the steeper the relation. The Pγs for MAC equal 6–30. PEC50Concentration producing a 50% effect in a population (a population EC50). Rγ The Hill coefficient (γ) that describes the steepness of the concentration–effect relation for a receptor. The bigger the number, the steeper the relation. The Rγs for most receptors equal 1–2. REC50Concentration producing a 50% effect in a receptor (also Km). RSDThe standard deviation of REC50. T Threshold. The fraction of molecular targets that must be affected ( e.g. , bound by anesthetic molecules) to anesthetize an individual patient. TSDThe standard deviation of T.
Appendix A
This analysis was supplied by Dr. Robert Cantor (written communication, January 2000).
Initially, let us assume that each receptor is independent and has the same REC50. The concentration–effect relation is typically described using a sigmoid Emax model: where E is effect, Emax is the maximum possible effect (i.e.  , at an infinite drug concentration), DC is drug concentration, and Rγ, the exponent of the equation (the Hill coefficient), governs the steepness (sigmoidicity) of the concentration–effect relation. Examination of this relation for several receptors 8–16 suggests that the value for Rγin vitro  is approximately unity, and the sigmoid Emax model reduces to a simpler (Emax) model:MATHUsing this model, the probability that a receptor is not activated is:MATHTo determine the likelihood that one or more receptors are activated (regardless of how many are activated), determine the likelihood that none is activated and subtract that from 1.0. If the receptors act independently, then the probability that all n (or m) receptors are unactivated is the probability for each receptor raised to the nth power =[REC50/(REC50+ DC)]n. In turn, the net effect (i.e.  , the probability that one or more receptors is activated) may be represented as or
Appendix B
JP Dilger: A quantitative analysis of the effect of variability in drug binding and response threshold on the steepness of population concentration-effect curves (manuscript in preparation).
We make the following assumptions:
  • 1. Anesthetics bind to some receptor target. We characterize the binding with a binding constant, REC50, and a Hill coefficient, Rγ, and described it by:MATHwhere DC is the anesthetic drug concentration.
  • 2. The anesthetic affects the behavior of the receptor target (e.g.  , inhibition or potentiation) in proportion to the fraction bound.
  • 3. Anesthesia results when a certain threshold level, T, of binding is attained. T may range from 0 to 1 (Emax).
  • 4. The distribution of REC50and T among individuals in a population is described by normal distributions with standard deviations of RSDand TSD, respectively.
Numerical calculations were performed using a Visual Basic macro in Microsoft Excel. The distribution weights of REC50and T were evaluated at 41 points in the range of mean −3 · SD and mean + 3 · SD. One hundred sixty values of concentration were used (0.01–100 times REC50). For each combination of REC50, T, and DC, we calculated whether threshold was reached. If so, the appropriate weighting factor was accumulated in the running total at each concentration. The accumulated terms represent the fraction of the population for which the threshold is reached (i.e.  , anesthesia is achieved). The PEC50and steepness, Pγ, of the population curve may be calculated by a fit of the data to a logistic transformation in equation 7:
A copy of the Excel worksheet is available from the author.
References
Eckenhoff RG, Johansson JS: On the relevance of “clinically relevant concentrations” of inhaled anesthetics in in vitro  experiments. A nesthesiology 1999; 91: 856–60Eckenhoff, RG Johansson, JS
Forbes AR, Cohen NH, Eger EI II: Pancuronium reduces halothane requirement in man. Anesth Analg 1979; 58: 497–9Forbes, AR Cohen, NH Eger, EI
Miller RD, Wahrenbrock EA, Schroeder CF, Knipstein TW, Eger EI II, Buechel DR: Ethylene-halothane anesthesia: Addition or synergism? A nesthesiology 1969; 31: 301–4Miller, RD Wahrenbrock, EA Schroeder, CF Knipstein, TW Eger, EI Buechel, DR
Saidman LJ, Eger EI II: Effect of nitrous oxide and of narcotic premedication on the alveolar concentration of halothane required for anesthesia. A nesthesiology 1964; 25: 302–6Saidman, LJ Eger, EI
Saidman LJ, Eger EI II, Munson ES, Babad AA, Muallem M: Minimum alveolar concentrations of methoxyflurane, halothane, ether and cyclopropane in man: Correlation with theories of anesthesia. A nesthesiology 1967; 28: 994–1002Saidman, LJ Eger, EI Munson, ES Babad, AA Muallem, M
Bridges BE Jr, Eger EI II: The effect of hypocapnia on the level of halothane anesthesia in man. A nesthesiology 1966; 27: 634–7Bridges, BE Eger, EI
Franks NP, Lieb WR: Molecular and cellular mechanisms of general anaesthesia. Nature 1994; 367: 607–14Franks, NP Lieb, WR
Violet JM, Downie DL, Nakisa RC, Lieb WR, Franks NP: Differential sensitivities of mammalian neuronal and muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to general anesthetics. A nesthesiology 1997; 86: 866–74Violet, JM Downie, DL Nakisa, RC Lieb, WR Franks, NP
Miniami K, Vanderah TW, Miniami M, Harris RA: Inhibitory effects of anesthetics and ethanol on muscarinic receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Eur J Pharmacol 1997; 339: 237–44Miniami, K Vanderah, TW Miniami, M Harris, RA
Banks MI, Pearce RA: Dual actions of volatile anesthetics on GABA(A) IPSCs: Dissociation of blocking and prolonging effects. A nesthesiology 1999; 90: 120–34Banks, MI Pearce, RA
Dildy-Mayfield JE, Mihic SJ, Liu Y, Deitrich RA, Harris RA: Actions of long chain alcohols on GABAA and glutamate receptors: Relation to in vivo effects. Br J Pharmacol 1996; 118: 378–84Dildy-Mayfield, JE Mihic, SJ Liu, Y Deitrich, RA Harris, RA
Dildy-Mayfield JE, Eger EI II, Harris RA: Anesthetics produce subunit-selective actions on glutamate receptors. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1996; 276: 1058–65Dildy-Mayfield, JE Eger, EI Harris, RA
Eilers H, Kindler CH, Bickler PE: Different effects of volatile anesthetics and polyhalogenated alkanes on depolarization-evoked glutamate release in rat cortical brain slices. Anesth Analg 1999; 88: 1168–74Eilers, H Kindler, CH Bickler, PE
Minami K, Gereau RW, Minami M, Heinemann SF, Harris RA: Effects of ethanol and anesthetics on type 1 and 5 metabotropic glutamate receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Mol Pharmacol 1998; 53: 148–56Minami, K Gereau, RW Minami, M Heinemann, SF Harris, RA
Mascia MP, Machu TK, Harris RA: Enhancement of homomeric glycine receptor function by long-chain alcohols and anaesthetics. Br J Pharmacol 1996; 119: 1331–6Mascia, MP Machu, TK Harris, RA
Wick MJ, Mihic SJ, Ueno S, Mascia MP, Trudell JR, Brozowski SJ, Ye Q, Harrision NL, Harris RA: Mutations of GABA and glycine receptors change alcohol cutoff: Evidence for an alcohol receptor? Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1998; 95: 6504–9Wick, MJ Mihic, SJ Ueno, S Mascia, MP Trudell, JR Brozowski, SJ Ye, Q Harrision, NL Harris, RA
Krasowski MD, Harrison NL: The actions of ether, alcohol and alkane general anaesthetics on GABAA and glycine receptors and the effects of TM2 and TM3 mutations. Br J Pharmacol 2000; 129: 731–43Krasowski, MD Harrison, NL
Carpenter R, Eger EI II: Alveolar-to-arterial-to-venous anesthetic partial pressure differences in humans. A nesthesiology 1989; 70: 630–5Carpenter, R Eger, EI
Stoelting RK, Longnecker DE: Effect of right-to-left shunt on rate of increase in arterial anesthetic concentration. A nesthesiology 1972; 36: 352–6Stoelting, RK Longnecker, DE
Antognini JF, Wang XW, Carstens E: Quantitative and qualitative effects of isoflurane on movement occurring after noxious stimulation. A nesthesiology 1999; 91: 1064–71Antognini, JF Wang, XW Carstens, E
Gregory GA, Eger EI II, Munson ES: The relationship between age and halothane requirement in man. A nesthesiology 1969; 30: 488–91Gregory, GA Eger, EI Munson, ES
Rampil IJ, Lockhart S, Zwass M, Peterson N, Yasuda N, Eger EI II, Weiskopf RB, Damask MC: Clinical characteristics of desflurane in surgical patients: Minimum alveolar concentration. A nesthesiology 1991; 74: 429–33Rampil, IJ Lockhart, S Zwass, M Peterson, N Yasuda, N Eger, EI Weiskopf, RB Damask, MC
Eger EI II, Saidman LJ, Brandstater B: Temperature dependence of halothane and cyclopropane anesthesia in dogs: Correlation with some theories of anesthetic action. A nesthesiology 1965; 26: 764–70Eger, EI Saidman, LJ Brandstater, B
Tanifuji Y, Eger EI II: Brain sodium, potassium, and osmolality: Effects on anesthetic requirement. Anesth Analg 1978; 57: 404–10Tanifuji, Y Eger, EI
Palahniuk RJ, Shnider SM, Eger EI II: Pregnancy decreases the requirement for inhaled anesthetic agents. A nesthesiology 1974; 41: 82–3Palahniuk, RJ Shnider, SM Eger, EI
Munson ES, Martucci RW, Smith RE: Circadian variations in anesthetic requirements and toxicity in rats. A nesthesiology 1970; 32: 507–14Munson, ES Martucci, RW Smith, RE
Fig. 1. Five studies 2–6 of the MAC for halothane supply the 97 values for this graph. Each value provides the end-tidal halothane concentration for a single patient and indicates whether that patient moved (lower points) or did not move (upper points). At less than 0.72% halothane, 90% of patients moved, and at greater than 0.77%, 90% did not move. The continuous line indicates the results of a logistic regression analysis of these data.
Fig. 1. Five studies 2–6of the MAC for halothane supply the 97 values for this graph. Each value provides the end-tidal halothane concentration for a single patient and indicates whether that patient moved (lower points) or did not move (upper points). At less than 0.72% halothane, 90% of patients moved, and at greater than 0.77%, 90% did not move. The continuous line indicates the results of a logistic regression analysis of these data.
Fig. 1. Five studies 2–6 of the MAC for halothane supply the 97 values for this graph. Each value provides the end-tidal halothane concentration for a single patient and indicates whether that patient moved (lower points) or did not move (upper points). At less than 0.72% halothane, 90% of patients moved, and at greater than 0.77%, 90% did not move. The continuous line indicates the results of a logistic regression analysis of these data.
×
Fig. 2. Both γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 17 and acetylcholine 8 act on ligand-gated ion channel receptors thought to be potential mediators of anesthetic action. The data for GABA were obtained for GABA applied to α2β1receptors in Xenopus  oocytes. Similarly, the data for acetylcholine were obtained for neuronal acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. The concentration causing a 90% change in receptor function is 10- to 100-fold larger than the concentration causing a 10% change. That is, the anesthetic concentration–effect relations for these receptors (to enhance the action of GABA and depress the action of acetylcholine) are less steep than the population concentration–effect relation that underlies MAC (fig. 1).
Fig. 2. Both γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 17and acetylcholine 8act on ligand-gated ion channel receptors thought to be potential mediators of anesthetic action. The data for GABA were obtained for GABA applied to α2β1receptors in Xenopus 
	oocytes. Similarly, the data for acetylcholine were obtained for neuronal acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus 
	oocytes. The concentration causing a 90% change in receptor function is 10- to 100-fold larger than the concentration causing a 10% change. That is, the anesthetic concentration–effect relations for these receptors (to enhance the action of GABA and depress the action of acetylcholine) are less steep than the population concentration–effect relation that underlies MAC (fig. 1).
Fig. 2. Both γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 17 and acetylcholine 8 act on ligand-gated ion channel receptors thought to be potential mediators of anesthetic action. The data for GABA were obtained for GABA applied to α2β1receptors in Xenopus  oocytes. Similarly, the data for acetylcholine were obtained for neuronal acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. The concentration causing a 90% change in receptor function is 10- to 100-fold larger than the concentration causing a 10% change. That is, the anesthetic concentration–effect relations for these receptors (to enhance the action of GABA and depress the action of acetylcholine) are less steep than the population concentration–effect relation that underlies MAC (fig. 1).
×
Fig. 3. The anesthetic concentration–effect relations seen in figure 2for a receptor or for receptor combinations can be modeled by a curve defined byequation 4(1). In the current example, all of the receptors have the same REC50(0.3 mm). As n (the number of independent receptors) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens. The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. This analysis produces a value for Rγ (the Hill coefficient) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the Rγ values of 6–20+ found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e.  , it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
Fig. 3. The anesthetic concentration–effect relations seen in figure 2for a receptor or for receptor combinations can be modeled by a curve defined byequation 4(Appendix A). In the current example, all of the receptors have the same REC50(0.3 mm). As n (the number of independent receptors) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens. The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. This analysis produces a value for Rγ (the Hill coefficient) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the Rγ values of 6–20+ found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e. 
	, it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
Fig. 3. The anesthetic concentration–effect relations seen in figure 2for a receptor or for receptor combinations can be modeled by a curve defined byequation 4(1). In the current example, all of the receptors have the same REC50(0.3 mm). As n (the number of independent receptors) increases, the concentration–effect relation shifts to the left and steepens. The magnitude of steepening may be quantified by fitting a sigmoid Emax model to the resulting concentration–effect relation. This analysis produces a value for Rγ (the Hill coefficient) that approaches a maximum of approximately 1.5 as an infinite number of receptors are added. This value is far less than the Rγ values of 6–20+ found for MAC (fig. 1), i.e.  , it is a value far less than would be needed to reconcile the different steepnesses of receptor and MAC concentration–effect relations.
×
Fig. 4. Figure 3assumed an identical REC50(0.3 mm) and Hill coefficient (an Rγ of 1.0) for all of the different receptors whose effects were added to produce a combined effect. Here the combined effect of two receptors is illustrated, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, and the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm, both having an Rγ of 1 (see equation 5in 1). The combined effect has an REC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1. Thus, although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect, the effect is minimal both in the shift of the REC50and the steepening of the resulting curve.
Fig. 4. Figure 3assumed an identical REC50(0.3 mm) and Hill coefficient (an Rγ of 1.0) for all of the different receptors whose effects were added to produce a combined effect. Here the combined effect of two receptors is illustrated, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, and the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm, both having an Rγ of 1 (see equation 5in Appendix A). The combined effect has an REC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1. Thus, although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect, the effect is minimal both in the shift of the REC50and the steepening of the resulting curve.
Fig. 4. Figure 3assumed an identical REC50(0.3 mm) and Hill coefficient (an Rγ of 1.0) for all of the different receptors whose effects were added to produce a combined effect. Here the combined effect of two receptors is illustrated, one with an REC50of 0.3 mm, and the other with an REC50of 3.0 mm, both having an Rγ of 1 (see equation 5in 1). The combined effect has an REC50of 0.25 mm and an Rγ of 1.1. Thus, although the receptor with the larger value for REC50contributes to the combined effect, the effect is minimal both in the shift of the REC50and the steepening of the resulting curve.
×
Fig. 5. Isoflurane decreases the response to acetylcholine of α4β2acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. (A  ) Fractional decrease in a single preparation. The shallowness of the isoflurane concentration–effect curve (Rγ slightly more than 1) bears no necessary relation to the steepness (Pγ) of the population concentration–effect relation that the receptor may mediate. Assuming, for example, that anything less than a 50% (0.5 fraction) depression allows movement in response to incision and that more than 50% prevents movement, the resulting population concentration–effect relation is infinitely steep (D  ; the relation is approximated by a curve with a Pγ of 100). But if receptors differ among humans and if the boundary between movement–no movement remains at 50%, then the population concentration–effect relation becomes less steep (B  ). At concentration A in (B  ), 100% of patients would move with incision; at B, 67% would move; at C, 33%; and at D, none would move. Although the resulting concentration–effect curve (D  ) is steep (Pγ of 10, a value found in MAC studies, see fig. 1), it is not infinitely steep. If the receptor concentration–effect curves are distributed more broadly [C  ; points A, B, C, and D have the same meaning as in (B  )], the resulting population concentration–effect curve is still less steep (Pγ 2.5) (D  ). The points (diamonds, triangles, and circles) were obtained by calculating the fraction of patients that would be immobile at 10, 20, 30, 40, etc.  μm isoflurane.
Fig. 5. Isoflurane decreases the response to acetylcholine of α4β2acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus 
	oocytes. (A 
	) Fractional decrease in a single preparation. The shallowness of the isoflurane concentration–effect curve (Rγ slightly more than 1) bears no necessary relation to the steepness (Pγ) of the population concentration–effect relation that the receptor may mediate. Assuming, for example, that anything less than a 50% (0.5 fraction) depression allows movement in response to incision and that more than 50% prevents movement, the resulting population concentration–effect relation is infinitely steep (D 
	; the relation is approximated by a curve with a Pγ of 100). But if receptors differ among humans and if the boundary between movement–no movement remains at 50%, then the population concentration–effect relation becomes less steep (B 
	). At concentration A in (B 
	), 100% of patients would move with incision; at B, 67% would move; at C, 33%; and at D, none would move. Although the resulting concentration–effect curve (D 
	) is steep (Pγ of 10, a value found in MAC studies, see fig. 1), it is not infinitely steep. If the receptor concentration–effect curves are distributed more broadly [C 
	; points A, B, C, and D have the same meaning as in (B 
	)], the resulting population concentration–effect curve is still less steep (Pγ 2.5) (D 
	). The points (diamonds, triangles, and circles) were obtained by calculating the fraction of patients that would be immobile at 10, 20, 30, 40, etc. 
	μm isoflurane.
Fig. 5. Isoflurane decreases the response to acetylcholine of α4β2acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus  oocytes. (A  ) Fractional decrease in a single preparation. The shallowness of the isoflurane concentration–effect curve (Rγ slightly more than 1) bears no necessary relation to the steepness (Pγ) of the population concentration–effect relation that the receptor may mediate. Assuming, for example, that anything less than a 50% (0.5 fraction) depression allows movement in response to incision and that more than 50% prevents movement, the resulting population concentration–effect relation is infinitely steep (D  ; the relation is approximated by a curve with a Pγ of 100). But if receptors differ among humans and if the boundary between movement–no movement remains at 50%, then the population concentration–effect relation becomes less steep (B  ). At concentration A in (B  ), 100% of patients would move with incision; at B, 67% would move; at C, 33%; and at D, none would move. Although the resulting concentration–effect curve (D  ) is steep (Pγ of 10, a value found in MAC studies, see fig. 1), it is not infinitely steep. If the receptor concentration–effect curves are distributed more broadly [C  ; points A, B, C, and D have the same meaning as in (B  )], the resulting population concentration–effect curve is still less steep (Pγ 2.5) (D  ). The points (diamonds, triangles, and circles) were obtained by calculating the fraction of patients that would be immobile at 10, 20, 30, 40, etc.  μm isoflurane.
×
Fig. 6. Can molecular targets having REC50values different from MAC give rise to the observed population response curves for human anesthesia? A target having “super sensitivity” to anesthetics (REC50< PEC50) could do so only if the threshold were high. Similarly, a target that was relatively insensitive to anesthetics (REC50> PEC50) would require a low threshold value. This analysis suggests that the REC50probably lies within a factor of 3 of the PEC50(dashed vertical lines).
Fig. 6. Can molecular targets having REC50values different from MAC give rise to the observed population response curves for human anesthesia? A target having “super sensitivity” to anesthetics (REC50< PEC50) could do so only if the threshold were high. Similarly, a target that was relatively insensitive to anesthetics (REC50> PEC50) would require a low threshold value. This analysis suggests that the REC50probably lies within a factor of 3 of the PEC50(dashed vertical lines).
Fig. 6. Can molecular targets having REC50values different from MAC give rise to the observed population response curves for human anesthesia? A target having “super sensitivity” to anesthetics (REC50< PEC50) could do so only if the threshold were high. Similarly, a target that was relatively insensitive to anesthetics (REC50> PEC50) would require a low threshold value. This analysis suggests that the REC50probably lies within a factor of 3 of the PEC50(dashed vertical lines).
×