Toxicokinetics of U-47700, tramadol, and their main metabolites in pigs following intravenous administration: is a multiple species allometric scaling approach useful for the extrapolation of toxicokinetic parameters to humans?

Arch Toxicol. 2021 Dec;95(12):3681-3693. doi: 10.1007/s00204-021-03169-y. Epub 2021 Oct 3.


New synthetic opioids (NSOs) pose a public health concern since their emergence on the illicit drug market and are gaining increasing importance in forensic toxicology. Like many other new psychoactive substances, NSOs are consumed without any preclinical safety data or any knowledge on toxicokinetic (TK) data. Due to ethical reasons, controlled human TK studies cannot be performed for the assessment of these relevant data. As an alternative animal experimental approach, six pigs per drug received a single intravenous dose of 100 µg/kg body weight (BW) of U-47700 or 1000 µg/kg BW of tramadol to evaluate whether this species is suitable to assess the TK of NSOs. The drugs were determined in serum and whole blood using a fully validated method based on solid-phase extraction and LC-MS/MS. The concentration-time profiles and a population (pop) TK analysis revealed that a three-compartment model best described the TK data of both opioids. Central volumes of distribution were 0.94 L/kg for U-47700 and 1.25 L/kg for tramadol and central (metabolic) clearances were estimated at 1.57 L/h/kg and 1.85 L/h/kg for U-47700 and tramadol, respectively. The final popTK model parameters for pigs were upscaled via allometric scaling techniques. In comparison to published human data, concentration-time profiles for tramadol could successfully be predicted with single species allometric scaling. Furthermore, possible profiles for U-47700 in humans were simulated. The findings of this study indicate that unlike a multiple species scaling approach, pigs in conjunction with TK modeling are a suitable tool for the assessment of TK data of NSOs and the prediction of human TK data.

Keywords: LC–MS/MS; New synthetic opioids; Pigs; Population toxicokinetic modeling; Toxicokinetics; U-47700.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Benzamides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Benzamides / toxicity
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / pharmacokinetics
  • Illicit Drugs / toxicity
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Toxicokinetics
  • Tramadol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tramadol / toxicity


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Benzamides
  • Illicit Drugs
  • U-47700
  • Tramadol