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Record Information
Creation Date2009-07-21 20:27:58 UTC
Update Date2014-12-24 20:25:53 UTC
Accession NumberT3D2932
Common NameBuprenorphine
ClassSmall Molecule
DescriptionBuprenorphine is a derivative of the opioid alkaloid thebaine that is a more potent (25 - 40 times) and longer lasting analgesic than morphine. It appears to act as a partial agonist at mu and kappa opioid receptors and as an antagonist at delta receptors. The lack of delta-agonist activity has been suggested to account for the observation that buprenorphine tolerance may not develop with chronic use. [PubChem]
Compound Type
  • Amine
  • Analgesic, Opioid
  • Drug
  • Ether
  • Metabolite
  • Narcotic
  • Narcotic Antagonist
  • Organic Compound
  • Synthetic Compound
Chemical Structure
Chemical FormulaC29H41NO4
Average Molecular Mass467.640 g/mol
Monoisotopic Mass467.304 g/mol
CAS Registry Number52485-79-7
IUPAC Name(1S,2R,6S,14R,15R,16R)-3-(cyclopropylmethyl)-16-[(2S)-2-hydroxy-3,3-dimethylbutan-2-yl]-15-methoxy-13-oxa-3-azahexacyclo[²,⁸.0¹,⁶.0⁶,¹⁴.0⁷,¹²]icosa-7,9,11-trien-11-ol
Traditional Namebuprenorphine
InChI IdentifierInChI=1S/C29H41NO4/c1-25(2,3)26(4,32)20-15-27-10-11-29(20,33-5)24-28(27)12-13-30(16-17-6-7-17)21(27)14-18-8-9-19(31)23(34-24)22(18)28/h8-9,17,20-21,24,31-32H,6-7,10-16H2,1-5H3/t20-,21-,24-,26+,27-,28+,29-/m1/s1
Chemical Taxonomy
Description belongs to the class of organic compounds known as phenanthrenes and derivatives. These are polycyclic compounds containing a phenanthrene moiety, which is a tricyclic aromatic compound with three non-linearly fused benzene.
KingdomOrganic compounds
Super ClassBenzenoids
ClassPhenanthrenes and derivatives
Sub ClassNot Available
Direct ParentPhenanthrenes and derivatives
Alternative Parents
  • Phenanthrene
  • Azaspirodecane
  • Tetralin
  • Coumaran
  • Alkyl aryl ether
  • 1-hydroxy-2-unsubstituted benzenoid
  • Aralkylamine
  • Piperidine
  • Tertiary alcohol
  • Tertiary amine
  • Tertiary aliphatic amine
  • Dialkyl ether
  • Ether
  • Oxacycle
  • Azacycle
  • Organoheterocyclic compound
  • Organooxygen compound
  • Organonitrogen compound
  • Organic nitrogen compound
  • Alcohol
  • Organopnictogen compound
  • Hydrocarbon derivative
  • Amine
  • Organic oxygen compound
  • Aromatic heteropolycyclic compound
Molecular FrameworkAromatic heteropolycyclic compounds
External Descriptors
Biological Properties
StatusDetected and Not Quantified
Cellular Locations
  • Membrane
Biofluid LocationsNot Available
Tissue LocationsNot Available
PathwaysNot Available
Biological Roles
Chemical RolesNot Available
Physical Properties
AppearanceWhite powder.
Experimental Properties
Melting PointNot Available
Boiling PointNot Available
Solubility1.68e-02 g/L
Predicted Properties
Water Solubility0.017 g/LALOGPS
pKa (Strongest Acidic)7.5ChemAxon
pKa (Strongest Basic)12.54ChemAxon
Physiological Charge1ChemAxon
Hydrogen Acceptor Count5ChemAxon
Hydrogen Donor Count2ChemAxon
Polar Surface Area62.16 ŲChemAxon
Rotatable Bond Count5ChemAxon
Refractivity131.76 m³·mol⁻¹ChemAxon
Polarizability53.11 ųChemAxon
Number of Rings7ChemAxon
Rule of FiveYesChemAxon
Ghose FilterYesChemAxon
Veber's RuleYesChemAxon
MDDR-like RuleYesChemAxon
Spectrum TypeDescriptionSplash KeyView
Predicted GC-MSPredicted GC-MS Spectrum - GC-MS (Non-derivatized) - 70eV, Positivesplash10-0a4i-9004200000-95c5673aa686eb387e74JSpectraViewer
Predicted GC-MSPredicted GC-MS Spectrum - GC-MS (2 TMS) - 70eV, Positivesplash10-05g4-9000120000-df9796e1ae0815a47d9bJSpectraViewer
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Positivesplash10-1000-3000900000-e02fba1e40b85e61b83cJSpectraViewer
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Positivesplash10-0a4i-9001400000-eed215cb420d242b3d55JSpectraViewer
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Positivesplash10-0a4i-9000000000-817bab94cec1acd1c7e8JSpectraViewer
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Negativesplash10-014i-0001900000-285d935fade7fca577c3JSpectraViewer
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Negativesplash10-014i-2005900000-d8e7f724df7328e6815eJSpectraViewer
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Negativesplash10-0ika-2009100000-36ff69a17a3778cc0036JSpectraViewer
Toxicity Profile
Route of Exposure31% bioavailability (sublingual). Sublingual absorption is also dependent on pH. The length of time the tablet is under the tongue has little effect on absorption. Although buprenorphine is rapidly absorbed from the oral mucosa, the absorption into the systemic is slower. The time to reach peak plasma concentration (Tmax) varies between individuals (range of 40 minutes to 3.5 hours). How buprenorphine is formulated does not affect this pharmacokinetic parameter. It also undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism and as a consequence, has very low oral bioavailability. Coadministration with naloxone does not effect the pharmacokinetics of buprenorphine.
Mechanism of ToxicityBuprenorphine's analgesic effect is due to partial agonist activity at mu-opioid receptors. Buprenorphine is also a kappa-opioid receptor antagonist. The partial agonist activity means that opioid receptor antagonists (e.g., an antidote such as naloxone) only partially reverse the effects of buprenorphine. The binding to the mu and kappa receptors results in hyperpolarization and reduced neuronal excitability. Furthermore, buprenorphine slowly dissociates from its receptor. This observation would account for the longer duration of action compared to morphine, the unpredictability of its reversal by opioid antagonists, and its low level of manifest physical dependence. Its receptor fixation half life is 40 minutes which is significantly longer than morphine (milliseconds).
MetabolismHepatic. Buprenorphine undergoes both N-dealkylation to norbuprenorphine and glucuronidation. The N-dealkylation pathway is mediated by cytochrome P-450 3A4 isozyme. Norbuprenorphine, an active metabolite and has one-fifth of the pharmacologic activity of the parent compound, can further undergo glucuronidation. Route of Elimination: Buprenorphine, like morphine and other phenolic opioid analgesics, is metabolized by the liver and its clearance is related to hepatic blood flow. It is primarily eliminated via feces (as free forms of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine) while 10 - 30% of the dose is excreted in urine (as conjugated forms of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine). Half Life: IV administration, 0.3 mg = 1.2 - 7.2 hours (mean 2.2 hours); Sublingual administration = 37 hours.
Toxicity ValuesNot Available
Lethal DoseNot Available
Carcinogenicity (IARC Classification)No indication of carcinogenicity to humans (not listed by IARC).
Uses/SourcesFor the treatment of moderate to severe pain, peri-operative analgesia, and opioid dependence.
Minimum Risk LevelNot Available
Health EffectsMedical problems can include congested lungs, liver disease, tetanus, infection of the heart valves, skin abscesses, anemia and pneumonia. Death can occur from overdose.
SymptomsManifestations of acute overdose include pinpoint pupils, sedation, hypotension, respiratory depression and death.
TreatmentThe respiratory and cardiac status of the patient should be monitored carefully. In the event of depression of respiratory or cardiac function, primary attention should be given to the re-establishment of adequate respiratory exchange through provision of a patent airway and institution of assisted or controlled ventilation. Oxygen, intravenous fluids, vasopressors, and other supportive measures should be employed as indicated. In the case of overdose, the primary management should be the re-establishment of adequate ventilation with mechanical assistance of respiration, if required. Naloxone may not be effective in reversing any respiratory depression produced by buprenorphine. High doses of naloxone hydrochloride, 10-35 mg/70 kg may be of limited value in the management of buprenorphine overdose. Doxapram (a respiratory stimulant) also has been used. (6)
Normal Concentrations
Not Available
Abnormal Concentrations
Not Available
DrugBank IDDB00921
PubChem Compound ID40400
ChemSpider ID559124
UniProt IDNot Available
ChEBI ID3216
BioCyc IDNot Available
CTD IDNot Available
Stitch IDBuprenorphine
PDB IDNot Available
ACToR IDNot Available
Wikipedia LinkBuprenorphine
Synthesis Reference

Kazuhisa Ninomiya, Yasuhiro Fukushima, Mutsuo Okumura, Yuko Hosokawa, “Buprenorphine percutaneous absorption preparation.” U.S. Patent US6090405, issued August, 1992.

General References
  1. Huang P, Kehner GB, Cowan A, Liu-Chen LY: Comparison of pharmacological activities of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine: norbuprenorphine is a potent opioid agonist. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2001 May;297(2):688-95. [11303059 ]
  2. Bodkin JA, Zornberg GL, Lukas SE, Cole JO: Buprenorphine treatment of refractory depression. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1995 Feb;15(1):49-57. [7714228 ]
  3. Elkader A, Sproule B: Buprenorphine: clinical pharmacokinetics in the treatment of opioid dependence. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2005;44(7):661-80. [15966752 ]
  4. FDA label
  5. [Link]
  6. RxList: The Internet Drug Index (2009). [Link]
Gene Regulation
Up-Regulated Genes
GeneGene SymbolGene IDInteractionChromosomeDetails
Down-Regulated Genes
GeneGene SymbolGene IDInteractionChromosomeDetails


General Function:
Voltage-gated calcium channel activity
Specific Function:
Receptor for endogenous opioids such as beta-endorphin and endomorphin. Receptor for natural and synthetic opioids including morphine, heroin, DAMGO, fentanyl, etorphine, buprenorphin and methadone. Agonist binding to the receptor induces coupling to an inactive GDP-bound heterotrimeric G-protein complex and subsequent exchange of GDP for GTP in the G-protein alpha subunit leading to dissociation of the G-protein complex with the free GTP-bound G-protein alpha and the G-protein beta-gamma dimer activating downstream cellular effectors. The agonist- and cell type-specific activity is predominantly coupled to pertussis toxin-sensitive G(i) and G(o) G alpha proteins, GNAI1, GNAI2, GNAI3 and GNAO1 isoforms Alpha-1 and Alpha-2, and to a lesser extend to pertussis toxin-insensitive G alpha proteins GNAZ and GNA15. They mediate an array of downstream cellular responses, including inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity and both N-type and L-type calcium channels, activation of inward rectifying potassium channels, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), phospholipase C (PLC), phosphoinositide/protein kinase (PKC), phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and regulation of NF-kappa-B. Also couples to adenylate cyclase stimulatory G alpha proteins. The selective temporal coupling to G-proteins and subsequent signaling can be regulated by RGSZ proteins, such as RGS9, RGS17 and RGS4. Phosphorylation by members of the GPRK subfamily of Ser/Thr protein kinases and association with beta-arrestins is involved in short-term receptor desensitization. Beta-arrestins associate with the GPRK-phosphorylated receptor and uncouple it from the G-protein thus terminating signal transduction. The phosphorylated receptor is internalized through endocytosis via clathrin-coated pits which involves beta-arrestins. The activation of the ERK pathway occurs either in a G-protein-dependent or a beta-arrestin-dependent manner and is regulated by agonist-specific receptor phosphorylation. Acts as a class A G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) which dissociates from beta-arrestin at or near the plasma membrane and undergoes rapid recycling. Receptor down-regulation pathways are varying with the agonist and occur dependent or independent of G-protein coupling. Endogenous ligands induce rapid desensitization, endocytosis and recycling whereas morphine induces only low desensitization and endocytosis. Heterooligomerization with other GPCRs can modulate agonist binding, signaling and trafficking properties. Involved in neurogenesis. Isoform 12 couples to GNAS and is proposed to be involved in excitatory effects. Isoform 16 and isoform 17 do not bind agonists but may act through oligomerization with binding-competent OPRM1 isoforms and reduce their ligand binding activity.
Gene Name:
Uniprot ID:
Molecular Weight:
44778.855 Da
  1. Chen X, Ji ZL, Chen YZ: TTD: Therapeutic Target Database. Nucleic Acids Res. 2002 Jan 1;30(1):412-5. [11752352 ]
  2. Kishioka S, Paronis CA, Lewis JW, Woods JH: Buprenorphine and methoclocinnamox: agonist and antagonist effects on respiratory function in rhesus monkeys. Eur J Pharmacol. 2000 Mar 17;391(3):289-97. [10729371 ]
  3. Zubieta J, Greenwald MK, Lombardi U, Woods JH, Kilbourn MR, Jewett DM, Koeppe RA, Schuster CR, Johanson CE: Buprenorphine-induced changes in mu-opioid receptor availability in male heroin-dependent volunteers: a preliminary study. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000 Sep;23(3):326-34. [10942856 ]
  4. Sanchez-Blazquez P, Gomez-Serranillos P, Garzon J: Agonists determine the pattern of G-protein activation in mu-opioid receptor-mediated supraspinal analgesia. Brain Res Bull. 2001 Jan 15;54(2):229-35. [11275413 ]
  5. Mizoguchi H, Wu HE, Narita M, Hall FS, Sora I, Uhl GR, Nagase H, Tseng LF: Antagonistic property of buprenorphine for putative epsilon-opioid receptor-mediated G-protein activation by beta-endorphin in pons/medulla of the mu-opioid receptor knockout mouse. Neuroscience. 2002;115(3):715-21. [12435410 ]
  6. Ide S, Minami M, Satoh M, Uhl GR, Sora I, Ikeda K: Buprenorphine antinociception is abolished, but naloxone-sensitive reward is retained, in mu-opioid receptor knockout mice. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Sep;29(9):1656-63. [15100703 ]
  7. Davis MP: Buprenorphine in cancer pain. Support Care Cancer. 2005 Nov;13(11):878-87. Epub 2005 Jul 12. [16010532 ]
General Function:
Opioid receptor activity
Specific Function:
G-protein coupled receptor that functions as receptor for endogenous enkephalins and for a subset of other opioids. Ligand binding causes a conformation change that triggers signaling via guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins) and modulates the activity of down-stream effectors, such as adenylate cyclase. Signaling leads to the inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity. Inhibits neurotransmitter release by reducing calcium ion currents and increasing potassium ion conductance. Plays a role in the perception of pain and in opiate-mediated analgesia. Plays a role in developing analgesic tolerance to morphine.
Gene Name:
Uniprot ID:
Molecular Weight:
40368.235 Da
  1. Induru RR, Davis MP: Buprenorphine for neuropathic pain--targeting hyperalgesia. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2009 Dec-2010 Jan;26(6):470-3. doi: 10.1177/1049909109341868. Epub 2009 Aug 7. [19666890 ]
  2. Lester PA, Traynor JR: Comparison of the in vitro efficacy of mu, delta, kappa and ORL1 receptor agonists and non-selective opioid agonists in dog brain membranes. Brain Res. 2006 Feb 16;1073-1074:290-6. Epub 2006 Jan 27. [16443205 ]
  3. Megarbane B, Marie N, Pirnay S, Borron SW, Gueye PN, Risede P, Monier C, Noble F, Baud FJ: Buprenorphine is protective against the depressive effects of norbuprenorphine on ventilation. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 May 1;212(3):256-67. Epub 2005 Sep 16. [16169027 ]
General Function:
Opioid receptor activity
Specific Function:
G-protein coupled opioid receptor that functions as receptor for endogenous alpha-neoendorphins and dynorphins, but has low affinity for beta-endorphins. Also functions as receptor for various synthetic opioids and for the psychoactive diterpene salvinorin A. Ligand binding causes a conformation change that triggers signaling via guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins) and modulates the activity of down-stream effectors, such as adenylate cyclase. Signaling leads to the inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity. Inhibits neurotransmitter release by reducing calcium ion currents and increasing potassium ion conductance. Plays a role in the perception of pain. Plays a role in mediating reduced physical activity upon treatment with synthetic opioids. Plays a role in the regulation of salivation in response to synthetic opioids. May play a role in arousal and regulation of autonomic and neuroendocrine functions.
Gene Name:
Uniprot ID:
Molecular Weight:
42644.665 Da
  1. Boothby LA, Doering PL: Buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2007 Feb 1;64(3):266-72. [17244875 ]
  2. Robinson SE: Buprenorphine-containing treatments: place in the management of opioid addiction. CNS Drugs. 2006;20(9):697-712. [16953647 ]
General Function:
Nociceptin receptor activity
Specific Function:
G-protein coupled opioid receptor that functions as receptor for the endogenous neuropeptide nociceptin. Ligand binding causes a conformation change that triggers signaling via guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins) and modulates the activity of down-stream effectors. Signaling via G proteins mediates inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity and calcium channel activity. Arrestins modulate signaling via G proteins and mediate the activation of alternative signaling pathways that lead to the activation of MAP kinases. Plays a role in modulating nociception and the perception of pain. Plays a role in the regulation of locomotor activity by the neuropeptide nociceptin.
Gene Name:
Uniprot ID:
Molecular Weight:
40692.775 Da
  1. Bloms-Funke P, Gillen C, Schuettler AJ, Wnendt S: Agonistic effects of the opioid buprenorphine on the nociceptin/OFQ receptor. Peptides. 2000 Jul;21(7):1141-6. [10998549 ]