Plasma levels of morphine and morphine glucuronides in the treatment of cancer pain: relationship to renal function and route of administration. Eur J Clin Pharmacol

School of Pharmacy, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.97). 02/1990; 38(2):121-4. DOI: 10.1007/BF00265969
Source: PubMed


There is growing evidence that renally-impaired patients receiving morphine therapy are at greater risk of developing opiate toxicity, due to the accumulation of an active metabolite, morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G), which is usually excreted by the kidneys. This study examined the relationships between morphine dosage, renal function, and trough plasma concentrations of morphine and its glucuronide metabolites in 21 patients (aged mean: 68.5 years: 11 males) receiving either oral or subcutaneous morphine for terminal cancer pain. The median daily morphine dosages ( were: orally 1.87 (range 0.37-6.82) and subcutaneously 1.64 (range 0.22-3.60). The median plasma concentrations of morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G), and M6G ( were: 36.0, 1035.2, and 142.3, respectively. The plasma concentrations of morphine, M3G and M6G were each significantly related to the daily morphine dosage (n = 21, Spearman r = 0.79, 0.91, and 0.88 respectively). Accumulation of the morphine glucuronides was dependent on renal function. The plasma concentrations of M3G and M6G, when divided by the morphine concentration, were significantly related to the calculated creatinine clearance of the patient. Patients receiving oral morphine had higher plasma concentration ratios of glucuronide/morphine than those receiving subcutaneous therapy, presumably due to first-pass glucuronidation. The results of this study confirm that accumulation of the pharmacologically active M6G is related to renal function, which probably explains the observation that morphine dosage requirements are generally reduced in patients with renal impairment.

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    • "First, the NG108-15 cell line is a mixture of rat astrocytoma and mouse neuroblastoma particularly susceptible to drug neurotoxicity. Second, the concentrations used clearly exceeded the minimum effective analgesic concentration of morphine for non-tolerant patients (6–26 nM), although the lowest of them approached the plasmatic levels reported in tolerant patients under treatment for cancer pain (Peterson et al., 1990). "
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    ABSTRACT: Short-term incubation with pharmacologically relevant concentrations of morphine has been shown to transiently affect the metabolism and redox status of NG108-15 cells through δ-opioid receptor stimulation, but apparently did not provoke cell death. The present work tries to determine if incubation with morphine at longer time intervals (24 h) provokes apoptosis and/or necrosis, as it has been described in other cell lines. We have also checked the potential modulatory role of yohimbine on these effects, on the basis of the previously described interactions between this drug and opioid receptor ligands. Incubation with morphine 0.1 and 10 μM provoked the appearance of images compatible with apoptosis (bebbling, pyknotic cells with cytoplasmic and nuclear condensation) and necrosis (cells swollen with vacuolated cytoplasm lacking cell processes) that could be observed directly and/or after staining with methylene blue, crystal violet and propidium iodide/4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (IP/DAPI). Quantification of apoptosis by activation of caspases 3 and 7 and DNA fragmentation with the Tunel assay revealed a modest but significant increase after incubation with the two concentrations of morphine used. Co-incubation with 10 μM yohimbine prevented all these effects of the opioid. The results extend previous findings of a yohimbine-sensitive, neurotoxic effect of morphine on NG108-15 cells. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Journal of Applied Toxicology 03/2014; 34(1). DOI:10.1002/jat.2817 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    • "Morphine-6- glucuronide has been shown, for example, to produce analgesia when administered systemically (Romberg et al. 2004, Skarke et al. 2003) and is now under development as a therapeutic agent (Binning et al. 2011). Furthermore, central nervous system-depressant effects produced by repeated morphine administrations in patients with renal failure have been attributed to increased high blood levels of M6G due to impaired excretion (Pauli-Magnus et al. 1999; Peterson et al. 1990). M6G may also be implicated in the well-known individual differences in the responsiveness to morphine. "
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    ABSTRACT: Heroin is rapidly metabolized to morphine that in turn is transformed into morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G), an inactive metabolite at mu-opioid receptor (MOR), and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G), a potent MOR agonist. We have found that rats that had received repeated intraperitoneal injections of heroin exhibit measurable levels of M6G (which is usually undetectable in this species). The goal of the present study was to investigate whether M6G synthesis can be induced by intravenous (i.v.) heroin self-administration (SA). Rats were trained to self-administer either heroin (50 μg/kg per infusion) or saline for 20 consecutive 6-h sessions and then challenged with an intraperitoneal challenge of 10 mg/kg of heroin. Plasma levels of heroin, morphine, 6-mono-acetyl morphine, M3G, and M6G were quantified 2 h after the challenge. In vitro morphine glucuronidation was studied in microsomal preparations obtained from the liver of the same rats. Heroin SA induced the synthesis of M6G, as indicated by detectable plasma levels of M6G (89.7 ± 37.0 ng/ml vs. 7.35 ± 7.35 ng/ml after saline SA). Most important, the in vitro V (max) for M6G synthesis was correlated with plasma levels of M6G (r (2) = 0.78). Microsomal preparations from saline SA rats produced negligible amounts of M6G. Both in vivo and in vitro data indicate that i.v. heroin SA induces the synthesis of M6G. These data are discussed in the light of previous studies conducted in heroin addicts indicating that in humans heroin enhances the synthesis of the active metabolite of heroin and morphine.
    Psychopharmacology 10/2011; 221(2):195-203. DOI:10.1007/s00213-011-2534-7 · 3.88 Impact Factor
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    • "The wide concentration ranges of oxycodone and metabolite serum concentrations observed were expected, not least due to the wide dose range observed in this sample. These observations agree with the studies that showed large individual differences in serum concentrations even after dose correction for patients receiving morphine [4, 51–53]. Total daily dose correlated highly with the variable that best explained the variability of oxycodone serum concentrations. "
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    ABSTRACT: Oxycodone is widely used for the treatment of cancer pain, but little is known of its pharmacokinetics in cancer pain patients. The aim of this study was to explore the relationships between ordinary patient characteristics and serum concentrations of oxycodone and the ratios noroxycodone or oxymorphone/oxycodone in cancer patients. Four hundred and thirty-nine patients using oral oxycodone for cancer pain were included. The patients' characteristics (sex, age, body mass index [BMI], Karnofsky performance status, "time since starting opioids", "oxycodone total daily dose", "time from last oxycodone dose", use of CYP3A4 inducer/inhibitor, "use of systemic steroids", "number of medications taken in the last 24 h", glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and albumin serum concentrations) influence on oxycodone serum concentrations or metabolite/oxycodone ratios were explored by multiple regression analyses. Sex, CYP3A4 inducers/inhibitors, total daily dose, and "time from last oxycodone dose" predicted oxycodone concentrations. CYP3A4 inducers, total daily dose, and "number of medications taken in the last 24 h" predicted the oxymorphone/oxycodone ratio. Total daily dose, "time from last dose to blood sample", albumin, sex, CYP3A4 inducers/inhibitors, steroids, BMI and GFR predicted the noroxycodone/oxycodone ratio. Women had lower oxycodone serum concentrations than men. CYP3A4 inducers/inhibitors should be used with caution as these are predicted to have a significant impact on oxycodone pharmacokinetics. Other characteristics explained only minor parts of the variability of the outcomes.
    European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 12/2010; 67(5):493-506. DOI:10.1007/s00228-010-0948-5 · 2.97 Impact Factor
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