The effect of desflurane on neuronal communication at a central synapse

Jonathan Mapelli, Daniela Gandolfi, Enrico Giuliani, Francesco P. Prencipe, Federica Pellati, Alberto Barbieri, Egidio D'Angelo, Albertino Bigiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although general anesthetics are thought to modify critical neuronal functions, their impact on neuronal communication has been poorly examined.We have investigated the effect induced by desflurane, a clinically used general anesthetic, on information transfer at the synapse between mossy fibers and granule cells of cerebellum, where this analysis can be carried out extensively. Mutual information values were assessed by measuring the variability of postsynaptic output in relationship to the variability of a given set of presynaptic inputs. Desflurane synchronized granule cell firing and reduced mutual information in response to physiologically relevant mossy fibers patterns. The decrease in spike variability was due to an increased postsynaptic membrane excitability, which made granule cells more prone to elicit action potentials, and to a strengthened synaptic inhibition, which markedly hampered membrane depolarization. These concomitant actions on granule cells firing indicate that desflurane re-shapes the transfer of information between neurons by providing a less informative neurotransmission rather than completely silencing neuronal activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0123534
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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