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Papers of the Week

2020 Jun 30

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol

The emerging role of fentanyl in antiplatelet therapy.


Kuczyńska K, Boncler M
J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2020 Jun 30.
PMID: 32649576.


Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid used to alleviate severe and chronic pain, as well as an adjunct to general or local anesthesia. Although fentanyl has been used for decades, its full effects are still unknown. Its analgesic and anesthetic activity arises from stimulation of μ-opioid receptors, resulting in inhibition of adenyl cyclase and downregulation of cAMP, as well as decreased calcium channel activity and increased potassium channel activity. The μ-opioid receptors are abundantly distributed within the central nervous system, where they mediate analgesia, and in the nerve cells of the intestines, where they regulate gastrointestinal tract motility in the secretion or transport of fluids and electrolytes. They are also expressed in blood cells, blood vessel cells and skin. Given the widespread distribution of μ-opioid receptors, it is likely that fentanyl may also regulate the activity of many other cells, including platelets. Recent findings indicate that it may impair the action of ticagrelor: an oral P2Y12 receptor inhibitor acting as an antiplatelet drug. It could pose a risk of insufficient platelet inhibition and result in thrombotic complications in patients with coronary artery disease. This article tackles the issue of fentanyl interactions with antiplatelet drugs. The mechanism of this phenomenon is not fully understood. Similarly, the biological effects exerted by fentanyl on platelets and the presence of opioid receptors on the platelet surface remain an open question.