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Nicotine Increases Codeine Analgesia Through the Induction of Brain CYP2D and Central Activation of Codeine to Morphine.

Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2015-01-30)
Douglas M McMillan, Rachel F Tyndale

CYP2D metabolically activates codeine to morphine, which is required for codeine analgesia. Permeability across the blood-brain barrier, and active efflux, suggests that initial morphine in the brain after codeine is due to brain CYP2D metabolism. Human CYP2D is higher in the brains, but not in the livers, of smokers and 7-day nicotine treatment induces rat brain, but not hepatic, CYP2D. The role of nicotine-induced rat brain CYP2D in the central metabolic activation of peripherally administered codeine and resulting analgesia was investigated. Rats received 7-day nicotine (1 mg/kg subcutaneously) and/or a single propranolol (CYP2D mechanism-based inhibitor; 20 μg intracerebroventricularly) pretreatment, and then were tested for analgesia and drug levels following codeine (20 mg/kg intraperitoneally) or morphine (3.5 mg/kg intraperitoneally), matched for peak analgesia. Nicotine increased codeine analgesia (1.59X AUC(0-30 min) vs vehicle; p<0.001), while propranolol decreased analgesia (0.56X; p<0.05); co-pretreatment was similar to vehicle controls (1.23X; p>0.1). Nicotine increased, while propranolol decreased, brain, but not plasma, morphine levels, and analgesia correlated with brain (p<0.02), but not plasma (p>0.4), morphine levels after codeine. Pretreatments did not alter baseline or morphine analgesia. Here we show that brain CYP2D alters drug response despite the presence of substantial first-pass metabolism of codeine and further that nicotine induction of brain CYP2D increases codeine response in vivo. Thus variation in brain CYP2D activity, due to genetics or environment, may contribute to individual differences in response to centrally acting substrates. Exposure to nicotine may increase central drug metabolism, not detected peripherally, contributing to altered drug efficacy, onset time, and/or abuse liability.

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