Effects of morphine metabolites on micturition in normal, unanaesthetized rats

Br J Pharmacol. 1993 Sep;110(1):257-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.1993.tb13802.x.


1. By means of continuous cystometry in normal, unanaesthetized rats, the effects on micturition of intrathecally (i.t.) administered morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G), the two main metabolites of morphine, were studied and compared with those of i.t. morphine. 2. Both M6G (0.01, 0.1, and 0.5 microgram) and M3G (5 micrograms) were found to have significant effects on micturition. Like morphine (0.1, 0.5, and 10 micrograms), M6G was able to inhibit the micturition reflex, and produce urinary retention and dribbling incontinence in a dose-dependent manner. The potency of M6G for inhibiting micturition was approximately 10 times higher than that of morphine, and the duration of its effect was longer. All effects of M6G could be reversed by naloxone. 3. M3G (5 micrograms) facilitated the micturition reflex, resulting in decreases in bladder capacity and micturition volume, and an increase in spontaneous contractile activity. Pretreatment with naloxone (10 micrograms), which by itself had no effect on micturition, enhanced the facilitatory effects of M3G. In addition, M3G tended to counteract the inhibitory effects of both morphine and M6G on micturition. M3G (5 micrograms) also produced an excitatory behavioural syndrome. 4. It is concluded that in rats, i.t. M3G has excitatory effects on micturition and behaviour, probably not mediated via opioid receptors. I.t M6G has a potent inhibitory effect on micturition mediated by stimulation of opioid receptors. It may have effects on somatosensory afferent input in lower doses than those required for effects on micturition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Morphine Derivatives / administration & dosage
  • Morphine Derivatives / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Morphine Derivatives / pharmacology
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Urinary Bladder / anatomy & histology
  • Urinary Bladder / drug effects
  • Urination / drug effects*


  • Morphine Derivatives
  • Naloxone
  • morphine-6-glucuronide
  • Morphine
  • morphine-3-glucuronide