Effect of the anesthetics benzyl alcohol and chloroform on bilayers made from monolayers

J. Reyes, R. Latorre

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The neutral anesthetics chloroform and benzyl alcohol, at concentrations that block the nerve impulse, greatly modify the transport parameters of positive and negative ions in lipid bilayers made from monolayers. Both chloroform and benzyl alcohol increase the membrane permeability to these ions and increase the translocation rate for tetraphenylborate. It was found that both anesthetics increase the membrane permeability to positive ions more markedly than to negative ions. It was also found that the membrane capacitance increases lineary with the concentration of benzyl alcohol. At 51 mM benzyl alcohol, the increase in capacitance is approximately 6%. Chloroform also increases the membrane capacitance; the increase in capacitance was found to be 6% at 18 mM chloroform. An analysis of the changes in the transport parameters of the lipophilic ions, together with the changes in membrane capacitance, suggests that benzyl alcohol and chloroform modify the dipole potential and dielectric constant of the membrane. Benzyl alcohol may also increase the "fluidity" of the lipid bilayer membranes. At 36 mM benzyl alcohol, the membrane permeability to acetamide increases by 38%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-279
Number of pages21
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1979


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