Pharmacokinetics of morphine and its surrogates. VII: High-performance liquid chromatographic analyses and pharmacokinetics of methadone and its derived metabolites in dogs

J Pharm Sci. 1985 Nov;74(11):1203-14. doi: 10.1002/jps.2600741114.


Reversed-phase HPLC assays with on-column UV detection and post-column fluorescent detection of ion pair-extracted material were developed and used for the quantitative assay of methadone, its presumed metabolites, and acid- and alkali-hydrolyzable conjugates of these metabolites in biological fluids with assay sensitivities of 10-20 ng/mL. Plasma, urine, and bile were monitored in dogs after intravenous bolus administration of 0.8, 1.0, 2.0, and 2.2 mg/kg methadone hydrochloride. Plasma-time data showed two sequential half-lives of 8.3 +/- 3.4 (SEM) and 128 +/- 37 min, with apparent dose-independent pharmacokinetics in the studied dose range. Total body clearances were 899 +/- 103 (SEM) mL/min. Renal clearances (6-82 mL/min) of methadone were highly variable within and among studies but showed no significant variation with urinary pH or flow rate. The percentages of the dose excreted in the urine as methadone and (+)-2-ethyl-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrroline (2) were 3.6 +/- 0.5% (SEM) and 4.1 +/- 0.4% (SEM), respectively, but there were no significant concentrations of 2 in plasma. The presumed metabolites 2-ethyl-5-methyl-3,3-diphenyl-1-pyrroline (3), 1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenyl-2-pyrrolidone (4), (-)-alpha-N-normethadol (7), 4-dimethylamino-2,2-diphenylvaleric acid (8), p-hydroxymethadone (9), and (-)-alpha-methadol (10) were not observed in the plasma of dogs given methadone. Quantities of presumed metabolites 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were negligible in urine (less than 0.03% of dose). No acid-hydrolyzable conjugates, or generators on acidification, of 3, 4, 7, 8, or 10 were detectable in urine. No alkali-hydrolyzable conjugates, or generators on alkalinization, of 3, 4, 8, or 10 were detectable in urine. There was no significant biliary secretion of unchanged methadone; 2 in bile amounted to only 2% of the dose. In bile and urine, 50% and 17-27%, respectively, of the radiolabeled dose was not extractable into hexane. In a non-bile-cannulated dog, 35% of the total radiolabeled intravenous dose was present in the feces. As much as 88% of an intravenous radiolabeled dose could be accounted for, even though only small amount of methadone was disposed through the metabolic routes claimed in the literature. The intravenous administration of 2 resulted in two sequential half-lives of 3 and 270 min and no apparent pharmacokinetic dose dependency. Amounts of 2 excreted unchanged in urine and bile were 23% and 5-16% of the dose, respectively. Renal and total body clearances were 170 and 1150 mL/min.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile / analysis
  • Biotransformation
  • Body Fluids / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Dogs
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydrolysis
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Methadone / metabolism*
  • Morphine / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet


  • Morphine
  • Methadone