The pharmacokinetics of morphine and morphine glucuronides in kidney failure

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1993 Aug;54(2):158-67. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1993.127.


The pharmacokinetics of morphine and its glucuronide metabolites were investigated in three groups of patients with kidney failure (nondialyzed, receiving dialysis, and transplantation) and compared with a group of normal healthy volunteers. Patients in all three renal groups were undergoing surgical procedures (nondialyzed group undergoing arteriovenous fistula formation, dialysis group undergoing placement of a peritoneal dialysis catheter, and the transplant group undergoing live donor kidney transplant). A sensitive, specific high-performance liquid chromatographic assay was used to quantitate morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide, and morphine-6-glucuronide. Patients with kidney failure had a significantly increased morphine area under the curve (AUC) compared with control subjects. There was also an increase in the metabolites morphine-3-glucuronide and morphine-6-glucuronide that was severalfold greater than the increase in morphine AUC. This metabolite accumulation was reversed by kidney transplantation, providing an elegant confirmation on the role of the kidney in morphine pharmacology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Morphine Derivatives / metabolism*
  • Peritoneal Dialysis


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