Intralipid Restoration of Myocardial Contractions Following Bupivacaine-Induced Asystole: Concentration- and Time-Dependence In Vitro

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The concentration- and time-response relationships of lipid emulsion (LE; Intralipid) on the recovery of myocardial contractility following bupivacaine (BPV)-induced asystole are poorly defined.


After achieving asystole by 500-μM BPV, varied concentrations of LE were applied to determine the recovery of stimulated contractile responses and contractions in the cardiac tissues of guinea pigs at a 1.2-Hz stimulation rate. These experiments were performed with LE in either a recirculating (2%–16%) or washout (nonrecirculating) condition (0.05%–12%) for 60 minutes. The effect of LE itself (0.05%–12%) was examined. Oxfenicine was used to evaluate the metabolic action of LE to reverse asystole. BPV concentrations in solution and myocardial tissues were measured.


In the recirculation condition, partial recovery of contractile forces was observed for 60 minutes at 4%, 8%, and 12% LE. A contracture followed after exposure to 16% LE in some asystolic muscles. In the washout experiments, following asystole, LE (0.05%–12%) had no effect on the recovery time of the first and regular contractile responses. LE (0.1%–8%) restored contractility to baseline levels after 45 minutes; partial recovery was shown with lower (0.05%) and higher (12%) concentrations. Oxfenicine did not alter the recovery of contractile forces. Contractile depression was observed with 12% LE alone. Concentration-related reduction of tissue BPV concentration by LE was observed in both circulating conditions.


LE induced time- and concentration-dependent recovery of stimulated myocardial contractions from BPV-induced asystole. The lipid uptake effect, along with other undefined mechanisms of LE, seems to contribute to the recovery of contractile function; however, the LE effect on myocardial metabolism is less likely involved at this concentration (500 μM) of BPV.

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