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Life Sci. 1998;63(5):401-11.

Hydromorphone-3-glucuronide: biochemical synthesis and preliminary pharmacological evaluation.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Hydromorphone-3-glucuronide (H3G) was synthesized biochemically using rat liver microsomes, uridine-5'-diphosphoglucuronic acid (UDPGA) and the substrate, hydromorphone. Initially, the crude putative H3G product was purified by ethyl acetate precipitation and washing with acetonitrile. Final purification was achieved using semi-preparative high-performance-liquid-chromatography (HPLC) with ultraviolet (UV) detection. The purity of the final H3G product was shown by HPLC with electrochemical and ultraviolet detection to be > 99.9% and it was produced in a yield of = 60% (on a molar basis). The chemical structure of the putative H3G was confirmed by enzymatic hydrolysis of the glucuronide moiety using beta-glucuronidase, producing a hydrolysis product with the same HPLC retention time as the hydromorphone reference standard. Using HPLC with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS-MS) in the positive ionization mode, the molecular mass (M+1) was found to be 462 g/mol, in agreement with H3G's expected molecular weight of 461 g/mol. Importantly, proton-NMR indicated that the glucuronide moiety was attached at the 3-phenolic position of hydromorphone. A preliminary evaluation of H3G's intrinsic pharmacological effects revealed that following i.c.v. administration to adult male Sprague-Dawley rats in a dose of 5 microg, H3G evoked a range of excitatory behavioural effects including chewing, rearing, myoclonus, ataxia and tonic-clonic convulsions, in a manner similar to that reported previously for the glucuronide metabolites of morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide and normorphine-3-glucuronide.

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