Retention of nociceptor responses during deep barbiturate anesthesia in frogs

Hall Downes, Dennis R. Koop, Beth Klopfenstein, Nickola Lessov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) anesthetized with a large dose of thiopental (42.8 mg/kg) retained movement responses to nociceptor stimuli despite an average plasma drug level of 51 mg/l, of which 63% was bound to plasma proteins. This concentration, when corrected to include only unbound and uncharged drug, was 2-fold greater than those reported to abolish nociceptor response (NR) during surgical anesthesia in man. The median anesthetic dose (AD50) for loss of the righting reflex was 11.2 mg/kg by s.c. injection into the abdominal lymph sac; however, at 54.0 mg/kg, all frogs retained NRs, although otherwise deeply anesthetized. The ratio of NR-blocking dose to light AD was thus >4.8, as compared to <2 in mammalian studies. Whole body levels of thiopental determined at 3 h after intralymphatic injection showed that about half the injected drug had been eliminated by this time and that termination of anesthesia was chiefly due to drug elimination. Even though the pharmacokinetics of thiopental appears to differ markedly in frogs and men, the poor analgesia seen in the present study frequently has been reported during clinical barbiturate anesthesia. Since this deficiency is much more pronounced in the bullfrog than in man, its neurophysiological basis might profitably be studied using the bullfrog as a model; however, the high mortality associated with deep thiopental anesthesia in the frog should preclude its use as a practical anesthetic in amphibia. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - C Pharmacology Toxicology and Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1999


  • Analgesia
  • Anesthesia
  • Barbiturate
  • Blood levels
  • Frog
  • Nociception
  • Protein binding
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Thiopental

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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