The interactions between blood and vascular wall cells are essential for understanding pathophysiological processes, e.g., during inflammation. The influence of anesthetics on leukocyte function is well documented. An inhibitory effect of thiopental, midazolam, and ketamine on leukocyte chemotaxis in a Boyden chamber chemotaxis assay (i.e., endothelial cells were not included) has been demonstrated. Little is known, however, about the influence of sufentanil on the inflammatory processes. To reach their targets in the tissue in vivo, leukocytes must interact with endothelial cell monolayers (ECMs). The aim of the current study was to investigate the influence of sufentanil on the migration of leukocytes through an ECM. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were cultured to achieve a monolayer. Isolated polymorphonuclear leukocytes and ECM were preincubated with different concentrations of sufentanil. The rate of leukocyte migration against the chemotactic protein formyl-methyl-leucyl-phenylalanine was measured (n = 7). Sufentanil significantly reduced the amount of leukocyte migration through ECM to 77% +/- 7.8% (P < 0.05 compared with control). Endothelial cells as well as leukocytes contributed to this effect: treatment of both cell types showed an additive effect. Although lower concentrations showed no effect, high concentrations reduced leukocyte migration through ECM to 61% +/- 7.1%. Implications: Leukocytes play an important role during inflammation, and anesthetics influence leukocyte functions, e.g., respiratory burst or chemotaxis. The effect of sufentanil on transendothelial leukocyte migration has not been investigated. Therefore, we used a migration assay including endothelial cell monolayers. Sufentanil showed a reducing effect on transendothelial leukocyte migration.
(Anesth Analg 1998;87:1181-5)