Effect of deuteration on the single dose pharmacokinetic properties and postoperative analgesic activity of methadone

Xiao ming Wang, Jigong Wang, Valentina Fokina, Svetlana Patrikeeva, Erik Rytting, Mahmoud Ahmed, Jun Ho La, Tatiana Nanovskaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although methadone is effective in the management of acute pain, the complexity of its absorption-distribution-metabolism-excretion profile limits its use as an opioid of choice for perioperative analgesia. Because deuteration is known to improve the pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and toxicological properties of some drugs, here we characterized the single dose pharmacokinetic properties and post-operative analgesic efficacy of d9-methadone. The pharmacokinetic profiles of d9-methadone and methadone administered intravenously to CD-1 male mice revealed that deuteration leads to a 5.7- and 4.4-fold increase in the area under the time-concentration curve and maximum concentration in plasma, respectively, as well as reduction in clearance (0.9 ± 0.3 L/h/kg vs 4.7 ± 0.8 L/h/kg). The lower brain-to-plasma ratio of d9-methadone compared to that of methadone (0.35 ± 0.12 vs 2.05 ± 0.62) suggested that deuteration decreases the transfer of the drug across the blood-brain barrier. The estimated LD50 value for a single intravenous dose of d9-methadone was 2.1-fold higher than that for methadone. Moreover, d9-methadone outperformed methadone in the efficacy against postoperative pain by primarily activating peripheral opioid receptors. Collectively, these data suggest that the replacement of three hydrogen atoms in three methyl groups of methadone altered its pharmacokinetic properties, improved safety, and enhanced its analgesic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100477
JournalDrug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Deuteration
  • Metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetic
  • Postoperative pain
  • d-methadone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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