Effects of tertiary amine local anesthetics on ion transport in the isolated bullfrog cornea

Howard F. Schoen, Oscar A. Candia

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Corneas were mounted in Ussing-type chambers and their short-circuit current (SCC) and resistance measured. Of eight local anesthetics tested, four (benoxinate, etidocaine, lidocaine, and mepivacaine) stimulated the SCC when added to the epithelial bathing solution at concentrations of from 0·02 to 1 mm. The stimulation, which usually lasted for 40-60 min, was seen only when the Ringer's solution contained Cl. At higher concentrations or after longer incubations, these local anesthetics inhibited the SCC. Four other local anesthetics, dibucaine, tetracaine, proxymetacaine (proparacaine), and procaine, only inhibited the Cl-dependent SCC when added to the epithelial bathing solution, with ID50's (after 60 min) of about 0·04, 0·3, 2 and 10 mm, respectively. Stimulation of the SCC was always accompanied by a reduction in the transcorneal electrical resistance. Inhibition of the SCC was accompanied by an increase, decrease, or no change in resistance. In some cases where the SCC was inhibited, the resistance fell to very low levels, but this effect was often partially reversed when the drug was washed out of the chamber. It is suggested that local anesthetics inhibit the SCC by directly altering the chloride permeability of corneal epithelial cells. The explanation for the stimulatory effect is less clear, but could be due to an elevation of intracellular Ca levels or to hormone-like effects of the drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1979
Externally publishedYes


  • chloride transport
  • corneal epithelium
  • corneal permeability
  • electrical resistance
  • short-circuit current
  • sodium transport


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