The mechanism by which anesthetic gases selectively prevent consciousness and memory (sparing
non-conscious brain functions) remains unknown. At the turn of the 20th century Meyer and Overton
showed that potency of structurally dissimilar anesthetic gas molecules correlated precisely over many orders of magnitude
with one factor, solubility in a non-polar, ‘hydrophobic’ medium akin to olive oil. In the 1980s Franks and Lieb
showed anesthetics acted in such a medium within proteins, suggesting post-synaptic membrane receptors. But anesthetic
studies on such proteins yielded only confusing results. In recent years Eckenhoff and colleagues have found anesthetic
action in microtubules, cytoskeletal polymers of the protein tubulin inside brain neurons. ‘Quantum mobility’ in microtubules
has been proposed to mediate consciousness. Through molecular modeling we have previously shown: (1) olive oillike
non-polar, hydrophobic quantum mobility pathways (‘quantum channels’) of tryptophan rings in tubulin, (2) binding
of anesthetic gas molecules in these channels, and (3) capabilities for π-electron resonant energy transfer, or exciton hopping,
among tryptophan aromatic rings in quantum channels, similar to photosynthesis protein quantum coherence. Here,
we show anesthetic molecules can impair π-resonance energy transfer and exciton hopping in tubulin quantum channels,
and thus account for selective action of anesthetics on consciousness and memory.
Keywords: Anesthesia, Anesthetics, Aromatic amino acids, Consciousness, Hydrogen bonds, Hydrophobic pockets, Postoperative
cognitive dysfunction, POCD, Microtubules, Quantum mobility theory, Tubulin, Tryptophan.
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