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FEBS Lett. 2000 Mar 31;470(3):309-14.

Morphine-related metabolites differentially activate adenylyl cyclase isozymes after acute and chronic administration.

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Dr. Margarete Fischer Bosch Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Auerbachstr. 112, 70376, Stuttgart, Germany.


Morphine-3- and morphine-6-glucuronide are morphine's major metabolites. As morphine-6-glucuronide produces stronger analgesia than morphine, we investigated the effects of acute and chronic morphine glucuronides on adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity. Using COS-7 cells cotransfected with representatives of the nine cloned AC isozymes, we show that AC-I and V are inhibited by acute morphine and morphine-6-glucuronide, and undergo superactivation upon chronic exposure, while AC-II is stimulated by acute and inhibited by chronic treatment. Morphine-3-glucuronide had no effect. The weak opiate agonists codeine and dihydrocodeine are also addictive. These opiates, in contrast to their 3-O-demethylated metabolites morphine and dihydromorphine (formed by cytochrome P450 2D6), demonstrated neither acute inhibition nor chronic-induced superactivation. These results suggest that metabolites of morphine (morphine-6-glucuronide) and codeine/dihydrocodeine (morphine/dihydromorphine) may contribute to the development of opiate addiction.

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