Sex differences in the pharmacokinetics, oxidative metabolism and oral bioavailability of oxycodone in the Sprague-Dawley rat

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2008 Mar;35(3):295-302. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2007.04821.x. Epub 2007 Oct 31.


1. The pharmacokinetics and oxidative metabolism of oxycodone were investigated following intravenous and oral administration in male and female Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. 2. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-electrospray ionization (ESI)-tandem mass spectrometry (MS-MS) was used to quantify plasma concentrations of oxycodone and its oxidative metabolites noroxycodone and oxymorphone following administration of single bolus intravenous (5 mg/kg) and oral (10 mg/kg) doses of oxycodone. 3. The mean (+/-SEM) clearance of intravenous oxycodone was significantly higher in male than female SD rats (4.9 +/- 0.3 vs 3.1 +/- 0.3 L/h per kg, respectively; P < 0.01). Mean areas under the plasma concentration versus time curves (AUC) for oxycodone were significantly higher in female than male SD rats following intravenous (approximately 1.6-fold; P < 0.01) and oral (approximately sevenfold; P < 0.005) administration. 4. The oral bioavailability of oxycodone was low (at 1.2 and 5.0%, respectively) in male and female SD rats, a finding consistent with high first-pass metabolism. Noroxycodone : oxycodone AUC ratios were significantly higher in male than female SD rats after intravenous (approximately 2.4-fold; P < 0.005) and oral (approximately 12-fold; P < 0.005) administration. 5. Circulating oxymorphone concentrations remained very low following both routes of administration. Noroxycodone : oxymorphone AUC ratios were greater in male than female SD rats after intravenous (approximately 13- and fivefold, respectively) and oral (approximately 90- and sixfold, respectively) administration. 6. Sex differences were apparent in the pharmacokinetics, oxidative metabolism and oral bioavailability of oxycodone. Systemic exposure to oxycodone was greater in female compared with male SD rats, whereas systemic exposure to metabolically derived noroxycodone was higher in male than female SD rats. 7. Oral administration of oxycodone to the SD rat is a poor model of the human for the study of the pharmacodynamic effects of oxycodone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Analgesics, Opioid / blood
  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Female
  • Male
  • Morphinans / blood
  • Morphinans / metabolism
  • Morphinans / pharmacokinetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxycodone / blood
  • Oxycodone / metabolism*
  • Oxycodone / pharmacokinetics*
  • Oxymorphone / blood
  • Oxymorphone / metabolism
  • Oxymorphone / pharmacokinetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphinans
  • noroxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Oxycodone