Biased agonism of clinically approved μ-opioid receptor agonists and TRV130 is not controlled by binding and signaling kinetics

Neuropharmacology. 2020 Apr:166:107718. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.107718. Epub 2019 Jul 24.


Binding and signaling kinetics have previously proven important in validation of biased agonism at GPCRs. Here we provide a comprehensive kinetic pharmacological comparison of clinically relevant μ-opioid receptor agonists, including the novel biased agonist oliceridine (TRV130) which is in clinical trial for pain management. We demonstrate that the bias profile observed for the selected agonists is not time-dependent and that agonists with dramatic differences in their binding kinetic properties can display the same degree of bias. Binding kinetics analyses demonstrate that buprenorphine has 18-fold higher receptor residence time than oliceridine. This is thus the largest pharmacodynamic difference between the clinically approved drug buprenorphine and the clinical candidate oliceridine, since their bias profiles are similar. Further, we provide the first pharmacological characterization of (S)-TRV130 demonstrating that it has a similar pharmacological profile as the (R)-form, oliceridine, but displays 90-fold lower potency than the (R)-form. This difference is driven by a significantly slower association rate. Finally, we show that the selected agonists are differentially affected by G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 and 5 (GRK2 and GRK5) expression. GRK2 and GRK5 overexpression greatly increased μ-opioid receptor internalization induced by morphine, but only had modest effects on buprenorphine and oliceridine-induced internalization. Overall, our data reveal that the clinically available drug buprenorphine displays a similar pharmacological bias profile in vitro compared to the clinical candidate drug oliceridine and that this bias is independent of binding kinetics suggesting a mechanism driven by receptor-conformations. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'New Vistas in Opioid Pharmacology'.

Keywords: Biased agonism; Binding kinetics; Oliceridine ((R)-TRV130); μ-opioid receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Buprenorphine / metabolism
  • Buprenorphine / pharmacokinetics
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)- / metabolism
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)- / pharmacokinetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Morphine / metabolism
  • Morphine / pharmacokinetics
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / agonists*
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Spiro Compounds / metabolism
  • Spiro Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Thiophenes / metabolism
  • Thiophenes / pharmacokinetics*


  • ((3-methoxythiophen-2-yl)methyl)((2-(9-(pyridin-2-yl)-6-oxaspiro(4.5)decan-9-yl)ethyl))amine
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Spiro Compounds
  • Thiophenes
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-
  • Buprenorphine
  • Morphine

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