The disposition of morphine and morphine-3-glucuronide in the isolated perfused rat liver: Effects of altered perfusate flow rate

Josephine A. O'Brien, Roger L. Nation, Allan M. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The rat single-pass isolated perfused liver preparation was used to study the effects of altered perfusate flow rate on the hepatic disposition of morphine and its polar metabolite morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G). Using a balanced cross-over design, livers of female Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 6) were perfused at 15 and 30 mL min-1 with erythrocyte- and protein-free perfusion medium containing a constant concentration of morphine (2.7 μM). After reaching steady-state, inflow and outflow perfusate and bile samples were collected and morphine and M3G were measured by HPLC. Doubling of perfusate flow rate was associated with a significant increase (P < 0.05) in the availability of morphine (mean ± s.d. of 0.19 ± 0.06 at 15 mL min-1 and 0.29 ± 0.08 at 30 mL min-1). The magnitude of the change in morphine availability was consistent with the predictions of the well-stirred model of hepatic elimination. The fate of hepatically generated M3G was assessed by the biliary extraction ratio of M3G; alterations in perfusate flow rate had no significant effect on this ratio (mean ± s.d. of 0.49 ± 0.14 at a perfusate flow rate of 15 mL min-1 and 0.47 ± 0.22 at 30 mL min-1). A physiologically-based mathematical model, in which the vascular and intracellular spaces of the liver were represented by two well-mixed compartments, was utilized to derive an equation for the biliary extraction ratio of M3G. According to the model, the value of this extraction ratio will become insensitive to changes in perfusate flow rate when the permeability for M3G of the membrane separating the intracellular and vascular compartments is low compared with perfusate flow rate. Hence, the experimental results are consistent with the concept that the hepatic sinusoidal membrane represents a diffusional barrier to M3G.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-504
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes

Cite this