Scientific publications

Stereoselective pharmacokinetic analysis of tramadol and its main phase I metabolites in healthy subjects after intravenous and oral administration of racemic tramadol

Jan 1, 2007 | Magazine: Biopharmaceutics & Drug Disposition

García Quetglas E, Azanza JR, Cardenas E, Sádaba B, Campanero MA.


The kinetics of tramadol enantiomers are stereoselective when doses of the racemic drug are given orally. To document whether the route of administration determines the stereoselective kinetics of tramadol enantiomers, healthy volunteers received 100 mg oral or intravenous doses of racemic tramadol, and serial blood samples were obtained to assay tramadol enantiomers and their main phase I metabolites, O-demethyltramadol and N-demethyltramadol.

To assess accurately the involvement of their metabolites in the pharmacokinetics of tramadol, it is essential to determine the rate and extent of the formation of the enantiomers of these metabolites. A simultaneous pharmacokinetic model describing the plasma concentration-curves of the generated metabolites and the parent compounds after intravenous and oral drug administration is developed and presented. Tramadol and O-demethyltramadol were the major compounds detected in plasma after intravenous administration.

Nevertheless, the N-demethylation of tramadol showed a significant increase when the oral route was used. After both oral and intravenous doses, the kinetics of the tramadol enantiomers were stereoselective. The AUC for (R )-(+)-tramadol was greater than the AUC for (S)-(-)-tramadol. The formation of N-demethyltramadol also was enantioselective after oral administration of racemic tramadol, with a greater AUC for (R)-(+)-N-demethyltramadol than for (S)-(-)-N-demethyltramadol. In the opposite form, (S)-(-)-O-demethyltramadol was formed faster than (R)-(+)-O-demethyltramadol.

The metabolism of tramadol was also route-dependent with a different enantiomeric ratio for tramadol and its main phase I metabolites after intravenous and oral administration. The disposition of N-demethyltramadol was concentration-dependent.

CITATION  Biopharm Drug Dispos. 2007 Jan;28(1):19-33