Liposphere local anesthetic timed-release for perineural site application

David B. Masters, Abraham J. Domb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Purpose. This investigation determines the drug delivery capacity of Lipospheres, which are drug-containing solid-filled vesicles made of triglyceride with a phospholipid outer covering to release local anesthetic in vitro and to produce sustained peripheral nerve block in vivo. Methods. The local anesthetic, bupivacaine, was loaded into Lipospheres in several dosage forms, characterized, and measured for in vitro release. In rats, Lipospheres were administered into a large space between muscle layers surrounding the sciatic nerve to assess sensory and motor block in vivo. Results. The particle size of Lipospheres was determined to be between 5 and 15 μm, with over 90% surface phospholopid. Lipospheres released bupivacaine over two days under ideal sink conditions. Liposphere nerve application produced dose-dependent and reversible block. Indeed, sustained local anesthetic block (SLAB) was observed for 1-3 days in various in vivo tests: a) Hind paw withdrawal latency to noxious heat was increased over 50% for 96 hr period after application of 3.6% or 5.6% bupivacaine-lipospheres. The 3.6% and 5.6% doses were estimated to release bupivacaine at 200 and 311 μg drug/ hr, respectively, based on release spanning 72 hr. Application of 1.6% bupivacaine-lipospheres increased withdraw latency 25-250% but for only a 24 hr duration; b) Similarly, vocalization threshold to hind paw stimulation Was increased 25-50% for 72 hr following application of 3.6% bupivacaine-lipospheres; c) Finally, sensory blockade outlasted or equaled corresponding motor block duration for all Liposphere drug dosages. Conclusions. Liposphere delivery of local anesthetic drugs may be well suited for site-specific pharmacotherapy of neural tissue to produce SLAB. Dose-dependent effects in duration of action may include lipophilic tissue storage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1038-1045
Number of pages8
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesia
  • Bupivacaine
  • Controlled release
  • Liposomal
  • Marcaine
  • Nerve


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