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Kinetic and metabolic profiles of synthetic cannabinoids NNEI and MN-18

In 2014 and 2015, synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists NNEI (N-1-naphthalenyl-1-pentyl-1H-indole-3-carboxamide) and MN-18 (N-1-naphthalenyl-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide) were detected in recreationally used and abused products in multiple countries, and were implicated in episodes of poisoning and toxicity. Despite this, the pharmacokinetic profiles of NNEI and MN-18 have not been characterized. In the present study NNEI and MN-18 were incubated in rat and human liver microsomes and hepatocytes, to estimate kinetic parameters and to identify potential metabolic pathways, respectively. These parameters and pathways were then examined in vivo, via analysis of blood and urine samples from catheterized male rats following intraperitoneal (3mg/kg) administration of NNEI and MN-18. Both NNEI and MN-18 were rapidly cleared by rat and human liver microsomes, and underwent a range of oxidative transformations during incubation with rat and human hepatocytes. Several unique metabolites were identified for the forensic identification of NNEI and MN-18 intake. Interestingly, NNEI underwent a greater number of biotransformations (20 NNEI metabolites versus 10 MN-18 metabolites), yet parent MN-18 was eliminated at a faster rate than NNEI in vivo. Additionally, in vivo elimination was more rapid than in vitro estimates. These data highlight that even closely related synthetic cannabinoids can possess markedly distinct pharmacokinetic profiles, which can vary substantially between in vitro and in vivo models.


Kevin, R. C., Lefever, T. W., Snyder, R. W., Patel, P. R., Gamage, T. F., Fennell, T. R., ... Thomas, B. F. (2018). Kinetic and metabolic profiles of synthetic cannabinoids NNEI and MN-18. Drug Testing and Analysis, 10(1), 137-147. https://doi.org/10.1002/dta.2262

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