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The antagonism of some effects of inhalation general anesthetic agents by naloxone suggests that there may be an opioid component to anesthetic action. There is evidence that this opioid action component is due to neuronal release of endogenous opioid peptides. The strongest evidence is provided by studies that monitor changes in the concentration of opioid peptides in the perfused brain following inhalation of the anesthetic. Indirect or circumstantial evidence also comes from studies of anesthetic effects on regional brain levels of opioid peptides, antagonism of selected anesthetic effects by antisera to opioid peptides and anesthetic-induced changes radioligand binding to opioid receptors. It is likely that some inhalation general anesthetics (e.g., nitrous oxide) can induce neuronal release of opioid peptides and that this may contribute to certain components of general anesthesia (e.g., analgesia). More definitive studies utilizing in vivo microdialysis or autoradiography in selected areas of the brain during induction and successive states of general anesthesia have yet to be conducted.
Quock, Raymond M. and Vaughn, Linda K., "Do Inhalation General Anesthetic Drugs Induce the Neuronal Release of Endogenous Opioid Peptides?" (2005). Biomedical Sciences Faculty Research and Publications. 81.
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