The effect of anesthetic charge on anesthetic-phospholipid interactions

Stephen R. Davio, Philip S. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cationic and uncharged forms of a tertiary amine local anesthetic are reported to have different properties and potencies as nerve blocking agents. However, the relative capacities of each form of the local anesthetic to perturb the properties of different model membrane systems is unknown. For this reason we have studied the effects of uncharged lidocaine (high pH) and its quaternary amine analogue (W49091) on the phase transition properties of DMPS, DPPE and DPPC liposomes using high-sensitivity differential scanning calorimetry. We report that neutral lidocaine interacts similarly with all three phospholipids. This interaction results in a decrease in the temperature of the gel å liquid crystalline phase transition (Tm), an increase in the enthalpy of the transition (ΔH), and a slight decrease in the cooperativity of melting. Quaternary lidocaine (W49091), on the other hand, interacts significantly with only DMPS; the result being again a decrease in the temperature of DMPS melting, an increase in ΔH, and a slight decrease in the cooperativity of the phase transition. These results are interpreted to indicate that uncharged lidocaine enters the membrane during the DPPE and DPPC phase transitions. In the case of DMPS, an influx of both charged forms of lidocaine must occur at Tm. These anesthetic fluxes at the lipid's phase transition are suggested to be responsible for the observed elevated enthalpies of the respective transitions. The observation that the cationic form of lidocaine does not significantly modify the behavior of DPPC and DPPE liposomes suggests that these lipids are not important components of the anesthetic's site in nerve membranes. However, the dramatic perturbation of the properties of DMPS by W49091 suggests that phosphatidylserine may comprise part of this inhibitory site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 22 1981


  • Anesthetic charge
  • Calorimetry
  • Liposome
  • Phase transition
  • Phospholipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine(all)


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