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Life Sci. 1991;48(22):2165-71.

Mu receptor binding of some commonly used opioids and their metabolites.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, University of Adelaide, Australia.


The binding affinity to the mu receptor of some opioids chemically related to morphine and some of their metabolites was examined in rat brain homogenates with 3H-DAMGO. The chemical group at position 6 of the molecule had little effect on binding (e.g. morphine-6-glucuronide Ki = 0.6 nM; morphine = 1.2 nM). Decreasing the length of the alkyl group at position 3 decreased the Ki values (morphine less than codeine less than ethylmorphine less than pholcodine). Analgesics with high clinical potency containing a methoxyl group at position 3 (e.g. hydrocodone, Ki = 19.8 nM) had relatively weak receptor binding, whilst their O-demethylated metabolites (e.g. hydromorphone, Ki = 0.6 nM) had much stronger binding. Many opioids may exert their pharmacological actions predominantly through metabolites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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