Morphine-6-glucuronide might mediate the prolonged opioid effect of morphine in acute renal failure

Hum Exp Toxicol. 1990 Sep;9(5):317-21. doi: 10.1177/096032719000900509.


1. A 43-year-old male developed acute kidney failure due to ethylene glycol poisoning. He was treated with bicarbonate to combat metabolic acidosis, ethanol as an antimetabolite and haemodialysis to remove the glycol and its toxic metabolites. He was kept on a respirator and sedated with morphine. Peritoneal dialysis was given for 36 d. Following sedation with morphine for 11 d, the patient was given naloxone and then extubated. The antidote had to be continued for 14 d to prevent respiratory depression, until kidney function improved. 2. Only morphine-6-glucuronide (M-6-G) was found in the plasma and CSF at concentrations which might explain the opioid effects observed in the patient during the days after the cessation of morphine treatment. The ratio of the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) of morphine-3-glucuronide (M-3-G) to M-6-G was 2:1. The elimination half-lives of M-3-G and M-6-G were 55 and 82 h, respectively. The clearance data indicate that most of the glucuronides were eliminated by peritoneal dialysis during renal failure. 3. The data suggest that M-6-G exerts opioid effects and is retained in acute kidney failure. Morphine should therefore not be used preferentially as a sedative/analgesic in pronounced kidney failure.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Ethylene Glycol
  • Ethylene Glycols / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morphine / metabolism*
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Morphine Derivatives / metabolism
  • Morphine Derivatives / pharmacology*


  • Ethylene Glycols
  • Morphine Derivatives
  • morphine-6-glucuronide
  • Morphine
  • Ethylene Glycol
  • morphine-3-glucuronide