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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Nov;73(4):883-92.

Pharmacokinetic differences of morphine and morphine-glucuronides are reflected in locomotor activity.

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National Institute of Forensic Toxicology, P.O. Box 495, Sentrum, N-0105, Oslo, Norway.


The main metabolites of morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G), have been considered to participate in some of the effects of morphine. There is limited knowledge of the pharmacokinetics and dynamics of morphine and the main metabolites in mice, but mice are widely used to study both the analgesic effects and the psychomotor effects of morphine. The present study aimed to explore pharmacokinetic differences between morphine and morphine-glucuronides in mice after different routes of administration, and to investigate how possible differences were reflected in locomotor activity, a measure of psychostimulant properties. Mice were given morphine, M3G or M6G by different routes of administration. Serum concentrations versus time curves, pharmacokinetic parameters and locomotor activity were determined. Intraperitoneal administration of morphine reduced the bioavailability compared to intravenous and subcutaneous administration, but not so for morphine-glucuronides. The two morphine-glucuronides had similar pharmacokinetics, but morphine demonstrated higher volume of distribution and clearance than morphine-glucuronides. The present results demonstrated no locomotor effect of M3G, but a serum concentration effect relationship for morphine and M6G. When serum concentrations and effect changes were followed over time, there was some right hand shifts with respect to locomotor activity, especially during the declining phase of the concentration curve and particularly for M6G.

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