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Pain. 1991 Oct;47(1):13-9.

Plasma morphine and morphine-6-glucuronide during chronic morphine therapy for cancer pain: plasma profiles, steady-state concentrations and the consequences of renal failure.

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Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021.


Morphine-6-glucuronide (M-6-G) is an active metabolite of morphine that may contribute to drug effects. To understand better the relationship between morphine and M-6-G in cancer patients receiving chronic therapy, we employed high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection to measure: (1) morphine and M-6-G plasma concentrations following discontinuation of dosing in 2 patients, one receiving oral therapy and the other an intravenous infusion; (2) morphine and M-6-G concentrations in random blood samples taken at apparent steady state from 8 patients, 7 with normal renal function and 1 with mild renal insufficiency, who were receiving continuous morphine infusions; and (3) morphine and M-6-G concentrations in random blood samples taken over a period of weeks from 4 patients, 2 with stable and 2 with declining renal function. Results demonstrated a slightly slower decline in plasma M-6-G than morphine concentrations following drug discontinuation, as would be expected for metabolite and parent relationship; roughly similar M-6-G: morphine ratios (mean molar ratio = 1.22) across a broad range of morphine doses in patients with normal renal function; and an increase in this ratio over time in patients with progressive renal dysfunction. These data illustrate the kinetics of M-6-G in cancer patients receiving chronic morphine therapy and confirm the importance of renal function in determining the concentration of the metabolite.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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