Neural tube defects caused by local anesthetics in early chick embryos

H. Lee, R. G. Nagele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The effects of local anesthetics (ketamine HCl, lidocaine HCl, procaine HCl, and tetracaine HCl) on stage 8 (four‐somite) chick embryos were investigated. In general embryos responded to drug treatment in a dose related manner during the first 6 hr of incubation. Concentrations of 500 μg/ml (ca. 2 mM) or higher were embryolethal, whereas 100–200 μg/ml (0.1–0.8 mM) preferentially inhibited elevation of neural folds. The latter effect was detectable within 3 hr of treatment and was readily reversible. Tetracaine was the most potent among the four local anesthetics tested at any given dose. Compared to controls, cells in the defective neuroepithelium were less elongated and exhibited smoother apical (luminal) surfaces, thinner microfilament bundles, and less intense actin‐specific fluorescence. Furthermore, the effects of local anesthetics (100–200 μg/ml) on stage 8 chick embryos were not identical to those of cytochalasin D (0.05 μg/ml), colchicine (1 μg/ml), or ionophore A23187 (25 μg/ml), although all treatments produced neural tube defects. Overall results suggest that local anesthetics inhibit closure of the neural tube through their disruptive action on the organization and function of microfilaments in developing neuroepithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Embryology
  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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