Arthroscopy : the journal of arthroscopic & related surgery : official publication of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and the International Arthroscopy Association

Cytotoxicity of local anesthetics on human mesenchymal stem cells in vitro.

PMID 23993145


The purpose of this study was to investigate the cytotoxic potency of local anesthetics on human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) before and after chondrogenic differentiation. MSCs were exposed to equal and equipotent concentrations of bupivacaine, ropivacaine, and mepivacaine for 1 hour. Cell viability, apoptosis, and necrosis were determined using flow cytometry and live/dead staining. After chondrogenic differentiation, MSC viability was determined in aggregates exposed to equipotent concentrations of the named agents, applying fluorescence microscopy. All local anesthetics showed detrimental cytotoxic effects on MSC monolayer cultures in a concentration- and time-specific manner. Minimum viability rates were found 96 hours after a 1-hour exposure. Bupivacaine 0.5% caused a reduction of vital MSCs to 5% ± 1%. Sixteen percent ± 2% viable cells were detected after treatment with 0.75% ropivacaine. Exposure to 2% mepivacaine decreased vitality rates to 1% ± 0%. Ropivacaine was significantly less cytotoxic than were bupivacaine and mepivacaine. Immediate cell death was mainly caused by necrosis followed by apoptosis afterward. Viability rates of MSCs embedded in cartilaginous tissue after chondrogenic differentiation were not reduced by local anesthetic treatment. Local anesthetics are cytotoxic to MSCs in a concentration-, time-, and agent-dependent manner in monolayer cultures but not in whole-tissue probes. MSCs are applied for treatment of cartilage defects. Intra-articular application of local anesthesia is a common procedure in pain management and has shown chondrotoxic effects. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the impact of local anesthetics on human MSCs and regenerative cartilage tissue engineering.