Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 245–252 | Cite as

Liver and kidney toxicity in chronic use of opioids: An experimental long term treatment model

  • Sebnem Atici
  • Ismail Cinel
  • Leyla Cinel
  • Nurcan Doruk
  • Gulcin Eskandari
  • Ugur Oral


In this study, histopathological and biochemical changes due to chronic usage of morphine or tramadol in liver and kidney were assessed in rats. Thirty male Wistar rats (180–220 g) were included and divided into three groups. Normal saline (1 ml) was given intraperitoneally as placebo in the control group (n = 10). Morphine group (n = 10) received morphine intraperitoneally at a dose of 4, 8, 10 mg/kg/day in the first, second and the third ten days of the study, respectively. Tramadol group (n = 10), received the drug intraperitoneally at doses of 20, 40 and 80 mg/kg/day in the first, second and the third ten days of the study, respectively. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatinin, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured in the serum. Liver and kidney specimens were evaluated by light microscopy. Serum ALT, AST, LDH, BUN and creatinin levels were significantly higher in morphine group compared to the control group. Serum LDH, BUN and creatinin levels were significantly increased in the morphine group compared to the tramadol group. The mean MDA level was significantly higher in morphine group compared to the tramadol and control groups (P<0.05). Light microscopy revealed severe centrolobular congestion and focal necrosis in the liver of morphine and tramadol groups, but perivenular necrosis was present only in the morphine group. The main histopathologic finding was vacuolization in tubular cells in morphine and tramadol groups. Our findings pointed out the risk of increased lipid peroxidation, hepatic and renal damage due to long term use of opioids, especially morphine. Although opioids are reported to be effective in pain management, their toxic effects should be kept in mind during chronic usage


Kidney toxicity liver toxicity morphine tramadol 

Abbreviations used


Alanine aminotransferase


aspartate aminotransferase


blood urea nitrogen




lactate dehydrogenase




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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebnem Atici
    • 1
  • Ismail Cinel
    • 1
  • Leyla Cinel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nurcan Doruk
    • 1
  • Gulcin Eskandari
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ugur Oral
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and ReanimationMersin University, School of MedicineMersinTurkey
  2. 2.Department of PathologyMersin University, School of MedicineMersinTurkey
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryMersin University, School of MedicineMersinTurkey

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