The mechanisms of action of anesthetics are unclear. Much attention has been focused on ion channels in the central nervous system as targets for anesthetics. During the last decade, major advances have been made in our understanding of the physiology and pharmacology of G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling. Several lines of studies have shown that GPCRs are targets for anesthetics and that some anesthetics inhibit the functions of Gq-coupled receptors, including muscarinic acetylcholine (ACh) M1, metabotropic type 5 glutamate, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) type 2A, and substance P receptors. Nearly 160 GPCRs have been identified, based on their gene sequence and ability to interact with known endogenous ligands. However, an estimated 500-800 additional GPCRs have been classified as "orphan" receptors (oGPCRs) because their endogenous ligands have not yet been identified. Given that known GPCRs are targets for anesthetics, these oGPCRs represent a rich group of receptor targets for anesthetics. This article highlights the effects of anesthetics on Gq-coupled receptors, and discusses whether GPCRs other than Gq-coupled receptors are targets for anesthetics.
Keywords: Anesthetic, G-protein-coupled receptor, Muscarinic receptor, 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; serotonin) receptor, Substance P receptor