1. With reference to the post-operative dysfunction of the liver observed after halothane anaesthesia, the effects of the anaesthetic on some metabolic functions were studied in the isolated perfused rat liver. Oxygen uptake, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis and urea synthesis were affected by halothane at a concentration (2.5% of the gas phase) within the range used in clinical anaesthesia. 2. At this concentration of halothane uptake of oxygen was inhibited in livers from both fed and starved rats. 3. In livers from fed rats there was a 16-fold increase in lactate production. This was accompanied by a fivefold decrease in the tissue content of 2-oxoglutarate and a more than twofold decrease in citrate. The calculated [free NAD+]/[free NADH] ratio in both cytoplasm and mitochondria was lower in the halothane-exposed livers than in controls. 4. In livers of starved rats the rate of gluconeogenesis from lactate was decreased by halothane to 30% of the control rate. 5. Halothane inhibited gluconeogenesis from alanine and propionate to the same extent as from lactate, whereas glucose formation from dihydroxyacetone, glycerol, fructose and sorbitol was relatively unaffected. 6. During gluconeogenesis from 10mm-lactate the tissue content of ATP was decreased by 50%, glutamate by 50% and 2-oxoglutarate was decreased eightfold in the halothane-exposed livers. 7. Halothane decreased urea synthesis in the presence of 10mm-NH4Cl and 2mm-ornithine to 15% of the control rate. 8. The inhibitions of gluconeogenesis and urea synthesis were completely abolished within 15min of withdrawal of the anaesthetic. 9. The stimulation of uptake of oxygen brought about by the addition of lactate or precursors of urea was abolished by halothane. 10. Effects on gluconeogenesis similar to those of halothane occurred in livers exposed to the anaesthetic methoxyflurane, although normal rates were not restored on withdrawal of the drug. Other anaesthetic agents tested (ketamine–HCl and trichloroethylene) decreased gluconeogenesis to 66% of the control rate. 11. The inhibitory effects of halothane are consistent with an interference at the stage of the NADH dehydrogenase of the electron-transport chain.

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