Human liver morphine UDP-glucuronyl transferase enantioselectivity and inhibition by opioid congeners and oxazepam

Br J Pharmacol. 1988 Jul;94(3):864-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.1988.tb11598.x.


1. Morphine uridine diphosphate glucuronyl transferase (UDP-GT) was studied in human liver microsomes. The (-)- and (+)-morphine enantiomers were used as substrates and inhibitors, such as oxazepam and various opioid congeners were employed to characterize the different glucuronidation pathways. The kinetics of the oxazepam inhibition were studied in the rat liver. 2. The overall glucuronidation of (+)-morphine was higher than that of (-)-morphine. The morphine congeners tested, potently inhibited the formation of (-)-morphine-3-glucuronide ((-)-M3G), except for normorphine and codeine. The formation of (+)-morphine-6-glucuronide [+)-M6G) was potently inhibited by only dextromethorphan and (+)-naloxone. All drugs except normorphine inhibited the formation of (+)-M3G by 18-50%. 3. The metabolism of (-)-morphine to (-)-M3G was more sensitive to oxazepam inhibition than the formation of (+)-M3G from (+)-morphine in the rat liver. 4. The glucuronidation of natural morphine is subject to in vitro interaction with oxazepam and several opiate drugs. Our study supports the theory of more than one type of UDP-GT being involved in morphine glucuronidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antitussive Agents / pharmacology
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • Morphine Derivatives / biosynthesis
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Narcotics / pharmacology*
  • Oxazepam / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Antitussive Agents
  • Morphine Derivatives
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Narcotics
  • Oxazepam
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • morphine-3-glucuronide