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Substantial clinical and preclinical evidence have indicated the association between amide-linked local anesthesia and the long-term outcomes of cancer patients. However, the potential effects of local anesthesia on cancer recurrence are inconclusive and the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We systematically examined the effects of three commonly used local anesthetics in melanoma cells and analyzed the underlying mechanisms focusing on small GTPases. Ropivacaine and lidocaine but not bupivacaine inhibited migration and proliferation, and induced apoptosis in melanoma cells. In addition, ropivacaine and lidocaine but not bupivacaine significantly augmented the in vitro efficacy of vemurafenib (a B-Raf inhibitor for melanoma with BRAF V600E mutation) and dacarbazine (a chemotherapeutic drug). Mechanistically, ropivacaine but not bupivacaine decreased the activities of Ras superfamily members with the dominant inhibitory effects on RhoA and Ras, independent of sodium channel blockade. Rescue studies using constitutively active Ras and Rho activator calpeptin demonstrated that ropivacaine inhibited migration mainly through RhoA whereas growth and survival were mainly inhibited through Ras in melanoma cells. We further detected a global reduction of downstream signaling of Ras and RhoA in ropivacaine-treated melanoma cells. Our study is the first to demonstrate the anti-melanoma activity of ropivacaine and lidocaine but not bupivacaine, via targeting small GTPases. Our findings provide preclinical evidence on how amide-linked local anesthetics could affect melanoma patients.


Qinghong Zheng, Xiaohong Peng, Yaqin Zhang. Cytotoxicity of amide-linked local anesthetics on melanoma cells via inhibition of Ras and RhoA signaling independent of sodium channel blockade. BMC anesthesiology. 2020 Feb 21;20(1):43

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PMID: 32085741

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