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Opiate receptors are coupled with G-protein receptors and function as both positive and negative regulators of synaptic transmission via G-proteins that activate effector proteins. Binding of the opiate stimulates the exchange of GTP for GDP on the G-protein complex. As the effector system is adenylate cyclase and cAMP located at the inner surface of the plasma membrane, opioids decrease intracellular cAMP by inhibiting adenylate cyclase. Subsequently, the release of nociceptive neurotransmitters such as substance P, GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine and noradrenaline is inhibited. Opioids also inhibit the release of vasopressin, somatostatin, insulin and glucagon. Sufentanil's analgesic activity is, most likely, due to its conversion to morphine. Opioids open calcium-dependent inwardly rectifying potassium channels (OP1 receptor agonist). This results in hyperpolarization and reduced neuronal excitability.
Sufentanil is a synthetic opioid analgesic. Sufentanil interacts predominately with the opioid mu-receptor. These mu-binding sites are discretely distributed in the human brain, spinal cord, and other tissues. In clinical settings, sufentanil exerts its principal pharmacologic effects on the central nervous system. Its primary actions of therapeutic value are analgesia and sedation. Sufentanil may increase the patient's tolerance for pain and decrease the perception of suffering, although the presence of the pain itself may still be recognized. In addition to analgesia, alterations in mood, euphoria and dysphoria, and drowsiness commonly occur. Sufentanil depresses the respiratory centers, depresses the cough reflex, and constricts the pupils.
LD50: 18.7 mg/kg (IV in mice)
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