Renal tubular transport of morphine, morphine-6-glucuronide, and morphine-3-glucuronide in the isolated perfused rat kidney

J. T. Van Crugten, B. C. Sallustio, R. L. Nation, A. A. Somogyi

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The isolated perfused rat kidney was used to examine the renal handling of morphine and its inactive metabolite morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G), and active metabolite morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G). The kidneys were perfused with Krebs-Henseleit buffer (pH 7.4) containing albumin, glucose, and amino acids, and drug concentrations were measured by high performance liquid chromatography. There was no conversion of morphine to the glucuronides or deconjugation of M3G or M6G. At an initial morphine concentration of 100 ng/ml, the unbound renal clearance to glomerular filtration rate ratio (CLu(r)/GFR) was 5.5 ± 3.2 (mean ± SD), indicating that net tubular secretion of morphine occurred. In the presence of M3G (2000 ng/ml) and M6G (500 ng/ml) this CLu(r)/GFR ratio was elevated to 17.3 ± 4.8 (p < .001), which implicates an interaction between these compounds at an active reabsorption transport system. The CLu(r)/GFR ratio for M3G at 2000 ng/ml was 0.90 ± 0.04, indicating the possibility of a small component of tubular reabsorption, and this ratio was not significantly altered in the presence of morphine and M6G. M6G was reabsorbed, probably actively, to a greater extent than M3G, with an initial CLu(r)/GFR ratio of 0.67 ± 0.04, which was not affected when morphine and M3G were coadministered. These data demonstrate an unusual phenomenon in that the glucuronide metabolites, which are larger and less lipophilic than the parent drug morphine, undergo net tubular reabsorption. The renal handling of morphine is a complex combination of glomerular filtration, active tubular secretion, and possibly active reabsorption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1092
Number of pages6
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

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