Mechanism of volatile anesthetics

Investigating the neural mechanisms of volatile anesthetics using transgenic mice lacking norepinephrine

Student: 
Frances Yifan Hu '12
Sponsor: 
Dr. Max Kelz
Department: 
Anesthesiology
School: 
Medicine

My project investigates the mechanism of action of the anesthetic, dexmedetomidine. One model proposes that the drug binds exclusively to receptors in the locus coeruleus, preventing norepinephrine release. Previous studies showed that absence of norepinephrine alone was sufficient for increased sensitivity to volatile anesthetics. We test the hypothesis that dexmedetomidine does not act solely at this nucleus, using transgenic mice lacking norephinephrine. With EEG recordings as a measure of anesthetic sensitivity, we compare the signals during wakefulness with those following intravenous anesthetic injection. We expect dexmedetomidine to produce no effect in the genetically-modified mice given the absence of norepinephrine.