Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

An Examination of the Complex Pharmacological Properties of the Non-Selective Opioid Receptor Modulator Buprenorphine

Version 1 : Received: 16 November 2020 / Approved: 17 November 2020 / Online: 17 November 2020 (09:53:19 CET)

How to cite: Pande, L.; Piper, B. An Examination of the Complex Pharmacological Properties of the Non-Selective Opioid Receptor Modulator Buprenorphine. Preprints 2020, 2020110443 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202011.0443.v1). Pande, L.; Piper, B. An Examination of the Complex Pharmacological Properties of the Non-Selective Opioid Receptor Modulator Buprenorphine. Preprints 2020, 2020110443 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202011.0443.v1).

Abstract

Buprenorphine, an analogue of thebaine, is a Schedule III opioid in the United States used for opioid-use disorder and as an analgesic. Research has shown drugs like buprenorphine have a complicated pharmacology with characteristics that challenge traditional definitions of terms like agonist, antagonist, and efficacy. Buprenorphine has a high affinity for the mu (MOR), delta (DOR), kappa (KOR), and intermediate for the nociceptin opioid receptors (NOR). Buprenorphine is generally described as a partial MOR agonist with limited activity and decreased response at the mu-receptor relative to full agonists. In opioid naïve patients, the drug’s analgesic efficacy is equivalent to a full MOR agonist, despite decreased receptor occupancy and the “ceiling effect” produced from larger doses. Some argue buprenorphine’s effects depend on the endpoint measured, as it functions as a partial agonist for respiratory depression, but a full-agonist for pain. Buprenorphine’s active metabolite, norbuprenorphine, attenuates buprenorphine's analgesic effects due to NOR binding and respiratory depressant effects. The method of administration impacts efficacy and tolerance when administered for analgesia. There have been eleven-thousand reports involving buprenorphine and minors (age < 19) to US poison control centers, the preponderance (89.2%) with children. The consequences of prenatal buprenorphine exposure in experimental animals and humans should continue to be carefully evaluated. In conclusion, buprenorphine’s characterization as only a partial mu-agonist is an oversimplification. Contemporary research shows the traditional explanation of the pharmacology of buprenorphine does not take into account changes to receptor theory, pharmacological terminology, route of administration, and biologically active major metabolites.

Subject Areas

opiate; mu; kappa; delta; nociceptin; addiction; overdose; prenatal; postnatal

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