Lack of absorption of a sustained-release buprenorphine formulation administered subcutaneously to athymic nude rats

C. Douglas Page, Rachel Sarabia-Estrada, R. Jay Hoffman, Chih Ping Lo, Naomi M. Gades

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Female athymic nude rats (Rattus norvegicus; n = 45; age, 6 wk) were used in an IACUC-approved protocol to investigate mechanisms and potential treatments associated with brain, spine, and spinal cord metastases from triple negative breast cancer. The analgesic plan included the use of buprenorphine SR LAB (0.6 mg/kg; 0.11 mL/rat) subcutaneously and an oral NSAID delivered via the water. Thirty-seven rats reached the experimental end point at 3 mo after xenotransplantation and were euthanized for tissue harvest. Grossly, all 37 rats had nodules in the subcutis over the shoulders; these were identified as small, cystic structures (diameter, approximately 0.25 cm). The cysts and haired skin were submitted for LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) and histopathology. Histologically, the cysts were lined by fibrous connective tissue mildly infiltrated by macrophages, lymphocytes, and plasma cells. Adjacent blood vessels were rimmed by a mild infiltrate of lymphocytes and plasma cells. The cysts contained variable accumulations of a light pink, proteinaceous fluid. The cause for the cysts could not be determined histologically; there was no evidence of neoplasia. LC-MS/MS analysis revealed that the cysts contained buprenorphine. We hypothesize that the lack of T cells and a cell-mediated immune response in these rats prevented the dissolution of the vehicle and absorption of the buprenorphine. The manufacturer provides a cautionary statement regarding the use of this formulation in nude mice due to skin reactions, but to our knowledge, this report is the first description of an apparent lack of absorption of the drug in immunodeficient animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-600
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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