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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effect of acute and chronic tramadol on [3H]-5-HT uptake in rat cortical synaptosomes.

1. Tramadol hydrochloride is a centrally acting opioid analgesic, the efficacy and potency of which is only five to ten times lower than that of morphine. Opioid, as well as non-opioid mechanisms, may participate in the analgesic activity of tramadol. 2. [3H]-5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) uptake in rat isolated cortical synaptosomes was studied in the presence of tramadol, desipramine, fluoxetine, methadone and morphine. Methadone and tramadol inhibited synaptosomal [3H]-5-HT uptake with apparent Kis of 0.27 +/- 0.04 and 0.76 +/- 0.04 microM, respectively. Morphine essentially failed to inhibit [3H]-5-HT uptake (Ki 0.50 +/- 0.30 M). 3. Methadone, morphine and tramadol were active in the hot plate test with ED50s of 3.5, 4.3 and 31 mg kg-1, respectively. At the highest tested dose (80 mg kg-1) tramadol produced only 77 +/- 5.3% of the maximal possible effect. 4. When [3H]-5-HT uptake was examined in synaptosomes prepared from rats 30 min after a single dose of morphine, methadone or tramadol, only tramadol (31 mg kg-1, s.c., equal to the ED50 in the hot plate test) and methadone (35 mg kg-1, s.c., equal to the ED90 in the hot plate test) decreased uptake. 5. Animals were chronically treated for 15 days with increasing doses of tramadol or methadone (5 to 40 mg kg-1 and 15 to 120 mg kg-1, s.c., respectively). Twenty-four hours after the last drug injection, a challenge dose of methadone (35 mg kg-1, s.c.) or tramadol (31 mg kg-1, s.c.) was administered. [3H]-5-HT uptake was not affected in synaptosomes prepared from rats chronically-treated with methadone, whereas chronic tramadol was still able to reduce this parameter by 42%. 6. Rats chronically-treated with methadone showed a significant increase in [3H]-5-HT uptake (190%) 72 h after drug withdrawal. In contrast, [3H]-5-HT uptake in rats chronically-treated with tramadol (110%) did not differ significantly from control animals. 7. These results further support the hypothesis that [3H]-5-HT uptake inhibition may contribute to the antinociceptive effects of tramadol. The lack of tolerance development of [3H]-5-HT uptake, together with the absence of behavioural alterations after chronic tramadol treatment, suggest that tramadol has an advantage over classical opioids in the treatment of pain disorders.[1]


  1. Effect of acute and chronic tramadol on [3H]-5-HT uptake in rat cortical synaptosomes. Giusti, P., Buriani, A., Cima, L., Lipartiti, M. Br. J. Pharmacol. (1997) [Pubmed]
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