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Anesth Analg. 2000 Apr;90(4):913-7.

Magnesium sulfate potentiates morphine antinociception at the spinal level.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Rush Medical College at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Intrathecal magnesium sulfate coinfusion with morphine increases antinociception in normal rats; however, because magnesium also delays the onset of tolerance, it is not clear whether this additional antinociception is a result of potentiated analgesia or tolerance abatement. We examined the antinociceptive interaction of intrathecal (IT) bolus magnesium sulfate and morphine in morphine naive rats and those with mechanical allodynia after a surgical incision. After intrathecal catheter implantation, rats were given preinjections of magnesium or saline, followed by injections of morphine or saline. In morphine naïve rats, IT bolus magnesium sulfate 281 and 375 microg followed by IT morphine 0.25 or 0.5 nmol enhanced peak antinociception and area under the response versus time curve two-to-three-fold in the tail-flick test as compared with morphine alone. Likewise, in rats with incisional pain, IT bolus magnesium sulfate 188 and 375 microg followed by morphine 0.5 nmol reduced mechanical allodynia, whereas morphine 0.5 nmol alone did not. This study suggests that IT magnesium sulfate potentiates morphine at a spinal site of action.


Magnesium sulfate potentiates morphine analgesia when coadministered intrathecally in normal rats, and in an animal model of mechanical allodynia after a surgical incision. These results suggest that intrathecal administration of magnesium sulfate may be a useful adjunct to spinal morphine analgesia.

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