Because deviations from the Meyer-Overton rule may provide insights into the attributes of the anesthetic site of action, we characterized the solubility of the n-alkanes in various hydrophobic solvents (n-tetradecane, olive oil, n-octanol, and lecithin) as well as saline using variations on standard techniques. Increasing alkane chain length correlated with a decrease in solubility in saline and an increase in solubility in the hydrophobic solvents. The product of solubility in the hydrophobic solvents X the partial pressure (in atmospheres) required to produce anesthesia (i.e., the Meyer-Overton rule) did not produce a constant for any one of these solvents. The means and standard deviations for the products were: tetradecane, 65 ± 103; olive oil, 33 ± 63; n-octanol, 64 ± 129; and lecithin, 16 ± 26. Thus, our data suggest that the n-alkanes (especially those longer than n-heptane) do not follow the Meyer-Overton rule.
Address correspondence to Dr. Eger, Department of Anesthesia, S-455, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0464.
© 1993 International Anesthesia Research Society