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The development of liver failure is a major problem in critically ill patients. The hepatotoxicity of many drugs, as one important reason for liver failure, is poorly screened for in human models. Rocuronium and succinylcholine are neuromuscular blocking agents used for tracheal intubation and for rapid-sequence induction.We used an in-vitro test with a permanent cell line and compared rocuronium and succinylcholine for hepatotoxicity.In-vitro study.A basic science laboratory, University Hospital Rostock, Germany.The basic test compound is the permanent human liver cell line HepG2/C3A. In a standardised microtitre plate assay the toxicity of different concentrations of rocuronium, succinylcholine and plasma control was tested.After two incubation periods of 3 days, the viability of cells (XTT test, lactate dehydrogenase release and trypan blue staining), micro-albumin synthesis and the cytochrome 1A2 activity (metabolism of ethoxyresorufin) were measured.Differences between rocuronium and succinylcholine were assessed using the Kruskal–Wallis one-way test and two-tailed Mann–Whitney U test.Rocuronium, but not succinylcholine, led to a significant dose-dependent decrease of viability, albumin synthesis and cytochrome 1A2 activity of test cells.An in-vitro test with a cell line showed hepatotoxicity of rocuronium that was dose-dependent. Further studies are needed to investigate the underlying mechanisms of the effects of rocuronium on hepatic cellular integrity.Not suitable.