Etomidate and other non-barbiturates

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific review


It is today generally accepted that anesthetics act by binding directly to sensitive target proteins. For certain intravenous anesthetics, such as propofol, barbiturates, and etomidate, the major target for anesthetic effect has been identified as the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA(A)) receptor, with particular subunits playing a crucial role. Etomidate, an intravenous imidazole general anesthetic, is thought to produce anesthesia by modulating or activating ionotropic Cl(-)-permeable GABA(A) receptors. For the less potent steroid anesthetic agents the picture is less clear, although a relatively small number of targets have been identified as being the most likely candidates. In this review, we summarize the most relevant clinical and experimental pharmacological properties of these intravenous anesthetics, the molecular targets mediating other endpoints of the anesthetic state in vivo, and the work that led to the identification of the GABA(A) receptor as the key target for etomidate and aminosteroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-282
Number of pages16
JournalHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
Issue number182
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous/adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System/drug effects
  • Etomidate/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Pregnanediones/adverse effects
  • Pregnanolone/adverse effects
  • Receptors, GABA-A/drug effects


Dive into the research topics of 'Etomidate and other non-barbiturates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this