The functional impact of altered drug transport protein expression on the systemic pharmacokinetics of morphine, hepatically derived morphine glucuronide (morphine-3- and morphine-6-glucuronide), and fasting bile acids was evaluated in patients with biopsy-confirmed nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) compared to healthy subjects. The maximum concentration (Cmax ) and area under the concentration-time curve (AUC0-last ) of morphine glucuronide in serum were increased in NASH patients (343 vs. 225 nM and 58.8 vs. 37.2 µM*min, respectively; P ≤ 0.005); morphine pharmacokinetics did not differ between groups. Linear regression analyses detected an association of NASH severity with increased morphine glucuronide Cmax and AUC0-last (P < 0.001). Fasting serum glycocholate, taurocholate, and total bile acid concentrations were associated with NASH severity (P < 0.006). Increased hepatic basolateral efflux of morphine glucuronide and bile acids is consistent with altered hepatic transport protein expression in patients with NASH and may partially explain differences in efficacy and/or toxicity of some highly transported anionic drugs/metabolites in this patient population.
© 2015 American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.