@misc{cogprints6011, volume = {57}, number = {5}, author = {Huping Hu and Maoxin Wu}, title = {Mechanism of Anesthetic Action: Oxygen Pathway Perturbation Hypothesis}, publisher = {Elsevier}, journal = {Medical Hypotheses}, pages = {619--627}, year = {2001}, keywords = {anesthetic action, anesthesia, oxygen, oxygen pathway, perturbation}, url = {http://cogprints.org/6011/}, abstract = {The mechanism of anesthesia is relevant to the neural and biological aspects of cognitive sciences. Although more than 150 years have past since the discovery of general anesthetics, how they precisely work remains a mystery. We propose a novel unitary mechanism of general anesthesia verifiable by experiments. In the proposed mechanism, general anesthetics perturb oxygen pathways in both membranes and oxygen-utilizing proteins such that the availabilities of oxygen to its sites of utilization are reduced which in turn triggers cascading cellular responses through oxygen-sensing mechanisms resulting in general anesthesia. Despite the general assumption that cell membranes are readily permeable to oxygen, exiting publications indicate that these membranes are plausible oxygen transport barriers. The present hypothesis provides a unified framework for explaining phenomena associated with general anesthesia and experimental results on the actions of general anesthetics. If verified by experiments, the proposed mechanism also has other significant medical and biological implications.} }