To examine whether morphine pharmacokinetics (PK) and/or genetic polymorphisms in opioid-related genes, underlie differences in analgesic response and side effects to morphine in Latino (L) vs non-Latino Caucasian (NL) children.
Morphine has high interindividual variability in its analgesic response and side effects profile. Earlier studies suggest that morphine response may vary by race and ethnicity.
Prospective cohort study in L and NL children, 3–17 years of age comparing pain scores, occurrence of side effects, plasma morphine, morphine-6-and morphine-3-glucuronide concentrations measured after a single morphine IV bolus administration. Non-compartmental pharmacokinetic analysis and genotyping for 28 polymorphisms in 8 genes (UGT1A8, UGT2B7, ABCB1, COMT, STAT6, MC1R, OPRM1, and ARRB2) were done.
We enrolled 68 children (33 L, 35 NL). There were no differences in pain scores or need for rescue analgesia. Statistically significant differences in the occurrence of side effects were documented: While 58% of L children experienced at least one side effect only 20% of NL did (p=0.001). Pruritus was 4 times (p=0.006) and emesis 7 times (p=0.025) more frequent in L compared to NL. PK parameters were similar between groups. None of the assessed polymorphisms mediated the association between ethnicity and side effects.
We found statistically significant differences in occurrence of side effects after morphine administration between L and NL children. Neither differences in morphine or metabolite concentrations, nor the genetic polymorphisms examined, explain these findings. Studies are needed to further investigate reasons for the increase in morphine side effects by Latino ethnicity.