• ADME;
  • P-glycoprotein;
  • transporters;
  • distribution;
  • pharamcokinetics;
  • pharmacodynamics


Conclusions based on either in vitro or in vivo approach to evaluate the P-gp affinity status of opioids may be misleading. For example, in vitro studies indicated that fentanyl is a P-gp inhibitor while in vivo studies indicated that it is a P-gp substrate. Quite the opposite was evident for meperidine. The objective of this study was to evaluate the P-gp affinity status of methadone, buprenorphine and diprenorphine to predict P-gp-mediated drug-drug interactions and to determine a better candidate for management of opioid dependence. Two in vitro (P-gp ATPase and monolayer efflux) assays and two in vivo (tissue distribution and antinociceptive evaluation in mdr1a/b (−/−) mice) assays were used. Methadone stimulated the P-gp ATPase activity only at higher concentrations, while verapamil and GF120918 inhibited its efflux (p < 0.05). The brain distribution and antinociceptive activity of methadone were enhanced (p < 0.05) in P-gp knockout mice. Conversely, buprenorphine and diprenorphine were negative in all assays. P-gp can affect the PK/PD of methadone, but not buprenorphine or diprenorphine. Our report is in favor of buprenorphine over methadone for management of opioid dependence. Buprenorphine most likely is not a P-gp substrate and concerns regarding P-gp-mediated drug-drug interaction are not expected. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc. and the American Pharmacists Association J Pharm Sci 98:4928–4940, 2009