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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Dec 2023 - 5 Jan 2024

2023 Dec 30

Drug Test Anal


Influence of carbon side chain length on the in vivo pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics of illicitly manufactured fentanyls.


Canfield JR, Sprague JE


Since 2016, illicitly manufactured fentanyls and fentanyl analogs (referred to as IMFs) have contributed to an increase in drug overdoses. Although fentanyl has been characterized and evaluated extensively in animals and humans, many of the clandestinely synthesized analogs of fentanyl have not and users may unknowingly ingest these IMFs leading to overdose and potentially death. The pharmacodynamic (PD) and pharmacokinetic (PK) properties of four IMFs and fentanyl were evaluated in Sprague-Dawley rats. A 300-μg/kg subcutaneous dose of each compound (fentanyl, acetylfentanyl, cyclopropylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, and valerylfentanyl) was given. PD parameters were measured using a tail flick meter and core body temperature. Blood was drawn to evaluate PK parameters utilizing liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Fentanyl displayed the greatest and longest lasting analgesia with a tail flick response of 10 s (the maximum cutoff). Additionally, fentanyl produced an average -4.9°C in core body temperature resulting in the greatest decrease in core body temperature. Acetylfentanyl, with the shortest carbon side chain, displayed the shortest T½, and lowest AUC and C and resulted in an increase in body temperature. There were no other PK differences among the IMFs assessed. As IMFs are commonly seen on the streets and can pose significant risks to users (although these risks do depend on other factors such as dose and route of administration), there is a benefit to having the pharmacological properties of these compounds characterized to better understand the potential harm to humans.