Pentobarbital: Selective Depression of Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials

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Science  16 Nov 1973:
Vol. 182, Issue 4113, pp. 720-722
DOI: 10.1126/science.182.4113.720


The effects of pentobarbital (Nembutal) on synaptic transmission and postsynaptic potentials were studied by the use of several invertebrate preparations. Pentobarbital selectively and reversibly depressed both excitatory postsynaptic potentials and sodium-dependent postsynaptic responses to putative excitatory transmitters without affecting either inhibitory postsynaptic potentials or chloride- and potassium-dependent postsynaptic responses to putative transmitters. A selective depression of postsynaptic excitatory events was also observed with other central nervous system depressants (ethanol, chloroform, chloralose, diphenylhydantoin, and urethane). The results suggest that central and peripheral depression observed during general anesthesia is due to a selective depression of excitatory synaptic events.