Recent studies have indicated that nitric oxide may play a role in inhalation anaesthesia. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase reduces the minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) for inhalation anaesthetics and decreases cerebellar nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity in rats. In this study, we have explored further the role of nitric oxide in isoflurane anaesthesia by examining the effects of a nitric oxide scavenger, 2-(4-carboxyphenyl)-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide (carboxy-PTIO 0.075-0.6 mg kg-1) on MAC values and cerebellar NOS activity in rats. Bolus injection of carboxy-PTIO at doses greater than 0.15 mg kg-1 reduced the MAC value of isoflurane (mean 1.36 (SEM 0.07)% at 0.15 mg kg-1, 1.39 (0.14)% at 0.3 mg kg-1 and 1.31 (0.06)% at 0.6 mg kg-1 vs control value of 1.61 (0.19)%). Administration of carboxy-PTIO 0.125 and 0.15 mg kg-1 resulted in increased cerebellar NOS activity during isoflurane anaesthesia (P < 0.05). These findings suggest that the level of nitric oxide may set a baseline from which isoflurane then acts.
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