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Fig. 8 | SpringerPlus

Fig. 8

From: A pressure-reversible cellular mechanism of general anesthetics capable of altering a possible mechanism for consciousness

Fig. 8

Reversible and irreversible changes induced by the insertion of anesthetic molecules to the lipid membrane. These changes are an extension of changes described in Fig. 5. a The insertion of an anesthetic molecule (an) within the lipid bilayer results in membrane expansion and formation of reversible partial hemi-fusion between postsynaptic membranes B and D. Once the anesthetic molecule is removed, this readily reverses back to normal state. b Complete hemifusion between postsynaptic membranes B and D. This is also a completely reversible process. However, prolonged maintenance of this state can lead to insertion of trans-membrane proteins across the hemifused membrane segment and stabilize this region for the duration of the life of that protein. Strong checkpoint mechanisms are expected to be present that prevent conversion of hemifusion to a fused state. c Inter-postsynaptic membrane fusion. Membrane hemifusion is an intermediate stage in the process of fusion. A well-conserved checkpoint mechanism that prevents conversion of hemifusion to fusion is expected to present at the postsynaptic membranes. Factors such as membrane composition changes, type and concentration of anesthetics or failure of checkpoint mechanisms can promote conversion of hemifusion state to fusion. Fusion occurring between the postsynaptic membranes is most likely an irreversible process and can trigger various neurodegenerative changes

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