Anti-inflammatory properties of local anesthetics and their present and potential clinical implications

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2006 Mar;50(3):265-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2006.00936.x.


Development of new local anesthetic agents has been focused on the potency of their nerve-blocking effects, duration of action and safety and has resulted in a substantial number of agents in clinical use. It is well established and well documented that the nerve blocking effects of local anesthetics are secondary to their interaction with the Na+ channels thereby blocking nerve membrane excitability and the generation of action potentials. Accumulating data suggest however that local anesthetics also possess a wide range of anti-inflammatory actions through their effects on cells of the immune system, as well as on other cells, e.g. microorganisms, thrombocytes and erythrocytes. The potent anti-inflammatory properties of local anesthetics, superior in several aspects to traditional anti-inflammatory agents of the NSAID and steroid groups and with fewer side-effects, has prompted clinicians to introduce them in the treatment of various inflammation-related conditions and diseases. They have proved successful in the treatment of burn injuries, interstitial cystitis, ulcerative proctitis, arthritis and herpes simplex infections. The detailed mechanisms of action are not fully understood but seem to involve a reversible interaction with membrane proteins and lipids thus regulating cell metabolic activity, migration, exocytosis and phagocytosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Capillary Permeability / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Edema / etiology
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators