Cytotoxicity of Local Anesthetics in Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Tao Wu, Jay Smith, Hai Nie, Zhen Wang, Patricia J. Erwin, Andre J. Van Wijnen, Wenchun Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cell therapy based on the trophic, mitogenic, and immunomodulatory capacity of mesenchymal stem cells is a promising treatment modality for degenerative musculoskeletal conditions. Local anesthetics have been commonly used in interventional procedures for alleviating pain, but local anesthetics may have negative impact on MSC dosing because of cytotoxicity or other biological effects. Because previous studies have not reached consensus yet on the potential complications of local anesthetics in cell therapy, we reviewed 11 studies that involve in vitro experimentation with MSCs using aminoamide-type anesthetics including lidocaine, ropivacaine, mepivacaine, bupivacaine, articaine, and prilocaine. Three studies that compare the effects of different types of local anesthetic agents showed that ropivacaine has the least detrimental effects on mesenchymal stem cell populations, whereas lidocaine seems to have the most significant effects on stem cell viability. Concentration-and time-dependent effects on cell viability were reported with bupivacaine, ropivacaine, lidocaine, and mepivacaine. We conclude that local anesthetic agents have time-and concentration-dependent detrimental effects on MSCs. However, in vivo studies will be required to understand the interactions of these agents with MSCs, because in vitro studies cannot replicate the pharmacokinetics of anesthetics in vivo or the recovery of MSCs in a more physiological environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Intervertebral Disk
  • Knee
  • Lidocaine
  • Local Anesthetic
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Stem Cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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