All types of living material are sensitive to fat solvents, even when these are present in low concentration. When excitable cells or tissues are exposed to a dilute solutions of ether, they typically lose their ability to respond to stimulation; that is to say they become anesthetized, or as most pharmacologists would prefer to say, narcotized. Physiologists and pharmacologists have long sought the reason for this anesthetic action. As was first recognized by Claude Bernard, and recognized clearly, the answer is to be found in a study of the cell and its protoplasm. The subject of anesthesia and the effect of anesthetics on protoplasm will be discussed in a special section of this treatise. In that section it will be pointed out that most of the earlier attempts to explain anesthesia in terms of the physiology of the cell have not been successful. Anesthesia is certainly not universally due to a decrease in the permeability of the plasma membrane, nor can it any longer with justice be held that the primary action of fat solvents is to decrease the activity of oxidizing enzymes. But anesthetics of all sorts do affect the viscosity of the protoplasm, and this is the only significant effect that they are known to have on the chemical or physical properties of the protoplasm.
KeywordsCentrifugal Force Calcium Oxalate Plasmic Viscosity Amyl Alcohol Protoplasmic Streaming
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