Peripherally Acting μ-Opioid Receptor Antagonists for the Treatment of Opioid-Related Side Effects: Mechanism of Action and Clinical Implications

John M. Streicher, Edward J. Bilsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Opioid receptors are distributed throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems and on many nonneuronal cells. Therefore, opioid administration induces effects beyond analgesia. In the enteric nervous system (ENS), stimulation of µ-opioid receptors triggers several inhibitory responses that can culminate in opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (OBD) and its most common side effect, opioid-induced constipation (OIC). OIC negatively affects patients’ quality of life (QOL), ability to work, and pain management. Although laxatives are a common first-line OIC therapy, most have limited efficacy and do not directly antagonize opioid effects on the ENS. Peripherally acting µ-opioid receptor antagonists (PAMORAs) with limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier have been developed. The PAMORAs approved by the U S Food and Drug Administration for OIC are subcutaneous and oral methylnaltrexone, oral naloxegol, and oral naldemedine. Although questions of cost-effectiveness and relative efficacy versus laxatives remain, PAMORAs can mitigate OIC and improve patient QOL. PAMORAS may also have applications beyond OIC, including reducing the increased cardiac risk or potential tumorigenic effects of opioids. This review discusses the burden of OIC and OBD, reviews the mechanism of action of new OIC therapies, and highlights other potential opioid-related side effects mediated by peripheral opioid receptors in the context of new OIC therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-669
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Practice
Volume31
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • methylnaltrexone
  • naldemedine
  • naloxegol
  • opioid-induced constipation
  • PAMORA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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