BACKGROUND: The relatively short duration of effect of local anesthetics has been addressed by encapsulation in drug delivery systems. Codelivery with a single compound that produces an adjuvant effect on nerve block but without intrinsic local anesthetic properties can further prolong the nerve block effect. Here, we investigated whether codelivery of more than 1 encapsulated adjuvant compound can further enhance nerve blockade.
METHODS: Liposomes loaded with bupivacaine (Bup), dexamethasone phosphate (DexP), or dexmedetomidine (DMED) were synthesized and its in vitro drug release profiles were determined. Animals (Sprague-Dawley rats) were injected with liposomal Bup (Lipo-Bup) and adjuvants at the sciatic nerve and underwent a modified hot plate test to assess the degree of nerve block. The duration of block was monitored and the tissue reaction was assessed.
RESULTS: Coinjection of Lipo-Bup with liposomal DexP (Lipo-DexP) and liposomal DMED (Lipo-DMED) prolonged the duration of sciatic nerve block 2.9-fold compared to Lipo-Bup alone (95% confidence interval, 1.9- to 3.9-fold). The duration of the block using this combination was significantly increased to 16.2 ± 3.5 hours compared to Lipo-Bup with a single liposomal adjuvant (8.7 ± 2.4 hours with Lipo-DMED, P = .006 and 9.9 ± 5.9 hours with Lipo-DexP, P = .008). The coinjection of Lipo-Bup with liposomal adjuvants decreased tissue inflammation (P = .014) but did not have a significant effect on myotoxicity when compared to Lipo-Bup alone. Coinjection of Lipo-Bup with unencapsulated adjuvants prolonged the duration of nerve block as well (25.0 ± 6.3 hours; P < .001) however was accompanied by systemic side effects.
CONCLUSIONS: Codelivery of Lipo-DexP and Lipo-DMED enhanced the efficacy of Lipo-Bup. This benefit was also seen with codelivery of both adjuvant molecules in the unencapsulated state, but with marked systemic toxicity.