The inhibitory effects of local anesthetics (LAs) of cocaine and bupivacaine optical isomers on Na+ currents were studied in clonal GH3 cells under whole-cell patch clamp conditions. At holding potential of -100 mV, all four isomers inhibited peak Na+ currents when the cell was stimulated infrequently. The dose-response curves of this tonic block of peak Na+ currents by (-)/(+) cocaine and (-)/(+) bupivacaine were well fitted by the Langmuir isotherm, suggesting that one LA isomer blocked one Na+ channel. Each pair of isomers showed no greater than a twofold difference in stereoselectivity toward Na+ channels. Additional block of Na+ currents occurred when the cell was stimulated at 2 Hz. This use-dependent block was also observed in all four isomers, which again displayed little stereoselectivity. The voltage dependence of the use-dependent block produced by cocaine isomers did not overlap with the activation of Na+ channels but did overlap with the steady-state inactivation (h infinity), indicating that cocaine can bind directly to the inactivated state of Na+ channels before channel opening. In comparison, the peak batrachotoxin (BTX)-modified Na+ currents were little inhibited by cocaine and bupivacaine isomers. However, the maintained BTX-modified Na+ currents were highly sensitive toward the (-) form of cocaine and bupivacaine isomers during a prolonged depolarization. As a result, a profound time-dependent block of BTX-modified Na+ currents was evident in the presence of these LA isomers. The estimated values of the equilibrium dissociation constant (KD in micromolar) at +50 mV were 35.8, 661, 7.0, and 222 for (-)/(+) cocaine and (-)/(+) bupivacaine, respectively. Although chloramine-T (CT) also modified the fast inactivation of Na+ channels and gave rise to a maintained Na+ current during a prolonged depolarization, LA isomers showed no greater stereoselectivity in blocking this maintained current than in blocking the normal transient Na+ current. We conclude that (a) cocaine and bupivacaine isomers exhibit only weak stereoselectivity toward the LA receptor in normal and CT-treated Na+ channels, (b) BTX drastically modifies the configuration of the LA binding site so that the LA stereoselectivity of the open Na+ channels is altered by an order of magnitude, and (c) the (-) forms of cocaine and bupivacaine interact strongly with the open state of BTX-modified Na+ channels but only weakly, if at all, with the closed state. The last finding may explain why most LA drugs were reported to be less effective toward BTX-modified Na+ channels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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