Several cationic anaesthetics and barbiturates including bupivacaine, lignocaine and pentobarbital reversibly inhibit myoblast fusion in rat primary muscle cultures. The same drugs also cause disruption of myotube structure, which is normally complete within 2 h; fusion of myoblasts and reformation of myotubes takes place on removal of the drugs. The disruption of myotubes caused by tertiary amine anaesthetics observed in vitro appears to mimic muscle fibre disruption caused by the same drugs in vivo. The effects of temperature, culture age, medium constitution and calcium flux on anaesthetic-induced myotube breakdown have been examined.

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