Preliminary pharmacokinetics of morphine and its major metabolites following intravenous administration of four doses to horses

Authors

  • H. K. Knych,

    Corresponding author
    1. K.L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
    2. Department of Veterinary Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
    • Dr. Heather K. Knych, K.L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, West Health Science Drive, Davis, CA 95616, USA. E-mail: hkknych@ucdavis.edu

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  • E. P. Steffey,

    1. K.L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
    2. Department of Veterinary Surgery and Radiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
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  • D. S. McKemie

    1. K.L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
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Abstract

The objective of the current study was to describe the pharmacokinetics of morphine and its metabolites following intravenous administration to the horse. A total of eight horses (two per dose group) received a single intravenous dose of 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, or 0.5 mg/kg morphine. Blood samples were collected up to 72 h postdrug administration, analyzed using LC-MS/MS and pharmacokinetic parameters determined. Behavior, step counts, and gastrointestinal activity were also assessed. The beta and gamma half-life for morphine ranged from 0.675 to 2.09 and 6.70 to 18.1 h, respectively, following administration of the four different IV doses. The volume of distribution at steady-state and systemic clearance ranged from 6.95 to 15.8 L/kg and 28.3 to 35.7 mL·min/kg, respectively. The only metabolites identified in blood samples were the primary metabolites identified in other species, 3-morphine-glucuronide and 6-morphine-glucuronide. Muscle fasciculations were observed at 0.2 and 0.5 mg/kg and ataxia noted at 0.5 mg/kg. Gastrointestinal activity was decreased in all dose groups (for up to 8 h in 7/8 horses and 24 h in one horse). This study extends previous studies and is the first report describing the metabolites of morphine in the horse. Plasma concentrations of morphine-3-glucuronide, a metabolite with demonstrated neuro-excitatory activity in mice, far exceeded that of morphine-6-glucuronide. Further study is warranted to assess whether the high levels of the morphine-3-glucuronide contribute to the dose-dependent excitation observed at high morphine doses.

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