The animal pharmacology of buprenorphine, an oripavine analgesic agent

Br J Pharmacol. 1977 Aug;60(4):547-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.1977.tb07533.x.


1. The general pharmacology of buprenorphine, a potent analgesic agent derived from oripavine, is described. 2. After cute administration of buprenorphine, the spontaneous locomotor activity of mice was increased; rats displayed stereotyped licking and biting movements; behavioural depression was marked in guinea-pigs but mild in rhesus monkeys. The behaviour of cats was unchanged. 3. In general, buprenorphine reduced heart rate but had no significant effect on arterial blood pressure in conscious rats and dogs. 4. In anaesthetized, open-chest cats buprenorphine (0.10 and 1.0 mg/kg, i.v.) caused no major haemodynamic changes. 5. Buprenorphine (0.01-10 mg/kg i.a.) and morphine (0.30-30 mg/kg, i.a.) increased arterial PCO2 values and reduced PO2 values in conscious rats. With doses of buprenorphine greater than 0.10 mg/kg (a) the duration of respiratory depression became less, (b) ceiling effects occurred such that the maximum effects produced were less than those obtained with morphine. 6. Buprenorphine was a potent and long-lasting antagonist of citric acid-induced coughing in guinea-pigs. 7. At a dose level 20 times greater than the ED50 for antinociception (tail pressure), morphine suppressed urine output to a greater extent than the corresponding dose of buprenorphine in rats. 8. Over the range 0.01-1.0 mg/kg (s.c.), buprenorphine slowed the passage of a charcoal meal along the gastrointestinal tract in rats. After doses in excess of 1 mg/kg, the meal travelled increasingly further such that the distances measured at 10 and 30 mg/kg did not differ significantly from control values. In contrast, the morphine dose-response relationship was linear.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Analgesics / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Antitussive Agents
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Cats
  • Diuresis / drug effects
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Haplorhini
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Morphinans / pharmacology*
  • Morphinans / toxicity
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Respiration / drug effects


  • Analgesics
  • Antitussive Agents
  • Morphinans
  • Morphine