Skip to main content


We're creating a new version of this page. See preview

  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

HCN1-mediated interactions of ketamine and propofol in a mean field model of the EEG

BMC Neuroscience201314 (Suppl 1) :O22

  • Published:


  • Ketamine
  • Potassium Channel
  • Field Model
  • Peak Frequency
  • Anesthetic Agent

Ketamine and propofol, two popular anesthetic agents, are generally believed to operate via disparate primary mechanisms: ketamine through NMDA antagonism and propofol through the potentiation of GABAA-gated receptor currents. However, surprisingly the effect of ketamine on the EEG is markedly altered in the presence of propofol. Specifically, while ketamine alone results in a downshift of the peak frequency of the alpha rhythm, and propofol keeps it roughly constant - when administered together, they increase the alpha peak frequency [1].

Recently it has been found that both ketamine and propofol inhibit the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated potassium channel form 1 (HCN1) subunits, which induces neuronal membrane hyperpolarization [2]. Furthermore, HCN1 knockout mice are significantly less susceptible to hypnosis with these agents; but equally affected by HCN1-neutral etomidate [2].

We show here [3] that an established mean field model of electrocortical activity can predict the EEG changes induced by combining ketamine and propofol by taking into account merely the HCN1-mediated hyperpolarisations, but neglecting their supposed main mechanisms of action (NMDA and GABAA, respectively). See Figure 1.
Figure 1
Figure 1

Predicted shift of the alpha peak frequency of ten parameter sets during four phases of linear change to the normalized ketamine (K) and propofol (P) concentrations, respectively.

Our results suggest that ketamine and propofol are infra-additive in their HCN1-mediated actions. This is consistent with independent experimental evidence[4]. We show here that the HCN1-mediated actions of ketamine and propofol, hitherto neglected by models of anaesthetic action, can not only explain a range of counterintuitive induced EEG changes but also predicts the infra-additivity of these drugs.

Authors’ Affiliations

School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Berkshire, RG6 6AY, UK
School of Psychology (CNCR), University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
Donders Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen (Medical Centre), 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Brain & Psychological Sciences Research Centre, Swinburne Uni. of Tech., Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122, Australia
Cortical Dynamics Ltd., Suite 4, 462 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122, Australia


  1. Tsuda N, Hayashi K, Hagihira S, Sawa T: Ketamine, an NMDA-antagonist, increases the oscillatory frequencies of alpha-peaks on the electroencephalographic power spectrum. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2007, 51 (4): 472-481. 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2006.01246.x.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen X, Shu S, Bayliss DA: HCN1 channel subunits are a molecular substrate for hypnotic actions of ketamine. J Neurosci. 2009, 29 (3): 600-609. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3481-08.2009.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bojak I, Day HC, Liley DTJ: Ketamine, propofol and the EEG: a neural field analysis of HCN1-mediated interactions. Front Comput Neurosci.Google Scholar
  4. Hendrickx JF, Eger EI, Sonner JM, Shafer SL: Is synergy the rule? A review of anesthetic interactions producing hypnosis and immobility. Anesth Analg. 2008, 107 (2): 494-506. 10.1213/ane.0b013e31817b859e.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Bojak et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.