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    Tramadol is an opioid used as an analgesic for treating moderate or severe pain. The long-term use of tramadol can induce several adverse effects. The toxicological mechanism of tramadol abuse is unclear. Metabolomics is a very useful method for investigating the toxicology of drug abuse. We investigated the impact of chronic tramadol administration on the cerebrum of mice, focusing on the metabolites after tramadol administration. The mice received 20 or 50 mg/kg body weight tramadol dissolved in physiological saline daily for 5 weeks via oral gavage. Compared with the control group, the low dose tramadol group showed seven potential biomarkers, including gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, succinate semialdehyde, and methylmalonic acid, which were either up- or down-regulated. Compared with the control group, the high dose tramadol group showed ten potential biomarkers, including gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, glutamine, and O-phosphorylethanolamine, which were either up- or down-regulated. The up-regulated gamma-hydroxybutyric acid and the down-regulated succinate semialdehyde revealed that the neurotransmitter system was disrupted after tramadol abuse. Compared with the low dose tramadol group, there were twenty-nine potential biomarkers in the high dose tramadol group, mainly related to the pentose phosphate pathway and glycerophospholipid metabolism. In conclusion, metabolomics in the tramadol abuse group demonstrated that long-term tramadol abuse can result in oxidative damage, inflammation, and disruption of the GABA neurotransmitter system, which will help to elucidate the toxicology of tramadol abuse.


    Wei Xia, Guojie Liu, Ziyi Shao, Enyu Xu, Huiya Yuan, Junting Liu, Lina Gao. Toxicology of tramadol following chronic exposure based on metabolomics of the cerebrum in mice. Scientific reports. 2020 Jul 07;10(1):11130

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    PMID: 32636435

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