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Dissociation of the vacuolar and macroautophagic cytopathology from the cytotoxicity induced by the lipophilic local anesthetic bupivacaine

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Local anesthetics, like many other cationic drugs, induce a vacuolar and macroautophagic cytopathology that has been observed in vivo and in various cell types; some also induce cytotoxicity of mitochondrial origin (apoptosis and necrosis) and it is not known whether the 2 types of toxicity overlap or interact. We compared bupivacaine with a more hydrophilic agent, lidocaine, for morphological, functional, and toxicological responses in a previously exploited nonneuronal system, primary smooth muscle cells. Bupivacaine induced little vacuolization (≥2.5 mmol/L, 4 h), but elicited autophagic accumulation (≥0.5 mmol/L, 4 h) and was massively cytotoxic at 2.5–5 mmol/L (4–24 h), the latter effect being unabated by the V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin A1. Lidocaine exerted little cytotoxicity at and below 5 mmol/L for 24 h, but intensely induced the V-ATPase-dependent vacuolar and autophagic cytopathology. Bupivacaine was more potent than lidocaine in disrupting mitochondrial potential, as judged by Mitotracker staining (significant proportions of cells affected in the 1–5 and 5–10 mmol/L concentration ranges, respectively). The addition of mitochondrial-inactivating toxins antimycin A and oligomycin to lidocaine (2.5 mmol/L) reproduced the profile of bupivacaine action (low intensity of vacuolization and retained autophagic accumulation). The high potency of bupivacaine as a mitochondrial toxicant eclipses the benign vacuolar and autophagic response seen with more hydrophilic local anesthetics.
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Keywords: V-ATPase; anesthésiques locaux; bupivacaine; bupivacaïne; lidocaine; local anesthetics; macroautophagie; macroautophagy; mitochondria; mitochondrie

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre de recherche en Rhumatologie et Immunologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, Québec, QC G1V 4G2, Canada.

Publication date: July 27, 2011

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