Intravenous anesthetic, propofol inhibits invasion of cancer cells

Cancer Lett. 2002 Oct 28;184(2):165-70. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(02)00210-0.


Intravenous anesthetic, propofol (2,6-diisopropylphenol), is extensively used for general anesthesia without knowing the effects on cancer. We found here that clinically relevant concentrations of propofol (1-5 microg/ml) decreased the invasion ability of human cancer cells (HeLa, HT1080, HOS and RPMI-7951). In the HeLa cells treated with propofol, formation of actin stress fibers as well as focal adhesion were inhibited, and propofol had little effect on the invasion ability of the HeLa cells with active Rho A (Val(14)-Rho A). In addition, continuous infusion of propofol inhibited pulmonary metastasis of murine osteosarcoma (LM 8) cells in mice. These results suggest that propofol inhibits the invasion ability of cancer cells by modulating Rho A and this agent might be an ideal anesthetic for cancer surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / prevention & control*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Osteosarcoma / prevention & control
  • Osteosarcoma / secondary
  • Propofol / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Actins
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Propofol