Background: The opioid meperidine induces spinal anesthesia and blocks nerve action potentials, suggesting it is a local anesthetic. However, whether it produces effective clinical local anesthesia in peripheral nerves remains unclear. Classification as a local anesthetic requires clinical local anesthesia but also blockade of voltage-dependent Na+ channels with characteristic features (tonic and phasic blockade and a negative shift in the voltage-dependence of steady-state inactivation) involving an intrapore receptor. The authors tested for these molecular pharmacologic features to explore whether meperidine is a local anesthetic. Methods: The authors studied rat skeletal muscle μ1 (RSkM1) voltage-dependent Na+ channels or a mutant form heterologously coexpressed with rat brain Na+ channel accessory β1 subunit in Xenopus oocytes. Polymerase chain reaction was used for mutagenesis, and mutations were confirmed by sequencing. Na+ currents were measured using a two-microelectrode voltage clamp. Meperidine and the commonly used local anesthetic lidocaine were applied to oocytes in saline solution at room temperature. Results: Meperidine and lidocaine produced tonic current inhibition with comparable concentration dependence. Meperidine caused phasic current inhibition in which the concentration-response relationship was shifted to fivefold greater concentration relative to lidocaine. Meperidine and lidocaine negatively shifted the voltage dependence of steady-state inactivation. Mutation of a putative local anesthetic receptor reduced phasic inhibition by meperidine and lidocaine and tonic inhibition by lidocaine, but not meperidine tonic inhibition. Conclusions: Meperidine blocks Na+ channels with molecular pharmacologic features of a local anesthetic. The findings support classification of meperidine as a local anesthetic but with less overall potency than lidocaine.
- Heterologous expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine