14-O-Methylmorphine: A Novel Selective Mu-Opioid Receptor Agonist with High Efficacy and Affinity

Ferenc Zador, Mihaly Balogh, Andras Varadi, Zoltan S. Zadori, Kornel Kiraly, Edina Szucs, Bence Varga, Bernadette Lazar, Sandor Hosztafi, Pal Riba, Sandor Benyhe, Susanna Furst, Mahmoud Al-Khrasani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


14-O-methyl (14-O-Me) group in morphine-6-O-sulfate (M6SU) or oxymorphone has been reported to be essential for enhanced affinity, potency and antinociceptive effect of these opioids. Herein we report on the pharmacological properties (potency, affinity and efficacy) of the new compound, 14-O-methylmorphine (14-OMeM) in in vitro. Additionally, we also investigated the antinociceptive effect of the novel compound, as well as its inhibitory action on gastrointestinal transit in in vivo. The potency and efficacy of test compound were measured by [35S] GTP.S binding, isolated mouse vas deferens (MVD) and rat vas deferens (RVD) assays. The affinity of 14-O-MeM for opioid receptors was assessed by radioligand binding and MVD assays. The antinociceptive and gastrointestinal effects of the novel compound were evaluated in the rat tail-flick test and charcoal meal test, respectively. Morphine, DAMGO, Ile(5,6) deltorphin II, deltorphin II and U-69593 were used as reference compounds.

14-O-MeM showed higher efficacy (Emax) and potency (EC50) than morphine in MVD, RVD or [ 35S] GTP.S binding. In addition, 14-O-MeM compared to morphine showed higher affinity for ae-opioid receptor (MOR). In vivo, in rat tail-flick test 14-O-MeM proved to be stronger antinociceptive agent than morphine after peripheral or central administration. Additionally, both compounds inhibited the gastrointestinal peristalsis. However, when the antinociceptive and antitransit doses for each test compound are compared, 14-O-MeM proved to have slightly more favorable pharmacological profile.

Our results affirm that 14-O-MeM, an opioid of high efficacy and affinity for MOR can be considered as a novel analgesic agent of potential clinical value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-273
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 5-Nov-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 14-O-methylmorphine
  • Morphine
  • Receptor binding
  • Intrinsic efficacy
  • Antinociception
  • Gastrointestinal transit
  • PAIN

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