PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 14(37):12956-12969, 2012. Paper abstract bibtex
The effect of four general anesthetic molecules, i.e., chloroform, halothane, diethyl ether and enflurane, on the properties of a fully hydrated dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) membrane is studied in detail by long molecular dynamics simulations. Furthermore, to address the problem of pressure reversal, the effect of pressure on the anesthetic containing membranes is also investigated. In order to ensure sufficient equilibration and adequate sampling, the simulations performed have been at least an order of magnitude longer than the studies reported previously in the literature on general anesthetics. The results obtained can help in resolving several long-standing contradictions concerning the effect of anesthetics, some of which were the consequence of too short simulation time used in several previous studies. More importantly, a number of seeming contradictions are found to originate from the fact that different anesthetic molecules affect the membrane structure differently in several respects. In particular, halothane, being able to weakly hydrogen bound to the ester group of the lipid tails, is found to behave in a markedly different way than the other three molecules considered. Besides, we also found that two changes, namely lateral expansion of the membrane and increasing local disorder in the lipid tails next to the anesthetic molecules, are clearly induced by all four anesthetic molecules tested here in the same way, and both of these effects are reverted by the increase in pressure.