Cardiovascular, respiratory, and analgesic effects of fentanyl in unanesthetized rhesus monkeys

N. A. Nussmeier, J. L. Benthuysen, Eugene Steffey, J. H. Anderson, Earl Carstens, J. H. Eisele, T. H. Stanley

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22 Scopus citations


To determine the suitability of the rhesus monkey as a model for investigation of opioids, we examined the analgesic, respiratory, and cardiovascular effects of fentanyl in six adult male rhesus monkeys. Fentanyl was administered in sequential bolus injections of 2, 4, 16, 64, and 128 μg/kg, with 10 min between each dose. Arterial plasma fentanyl concentrations and blood gas tensions were measured 3 and 9 min after each dose and 1, 2, 5, 20, 60, and 120 min after the final dose. At the same time periods, mean systemic arterial, pulmonary arterial, central venous, and pulmonary capillary wedge pressures, cardiac output, heart rate, and respiratory rate were measured. Analgesia was quantified as the time required for tail withdrawal from a standardized noxious stimulus. Tail latency response time increased significantly after the 4-μg/kg dose (plasma fentanyl concentration = 2.7 ± 0.9 ng/mL). Maximum tail latency response time was attained after the 64-μg/kg dose (43.4 ± 26.0 ng/mL). Respiratory rate decreased significantly after the 2-μg/kg dose, and PaCO2 increased significantly after the 4-μg/kg dose. All animals became apneic, requiring tracheal intubation and controlled ventilation, after the 64-μg/kg dose. Also, mean arterial pressre and cardiac output decreased significantly after the 64-μg/kg dose. There were no other significant cardiovascular changes. Peak plasma fentanyl concentration after the 128-μg/kg dose was 117.0 ± 49.6 ng/mL. It appears that plasma concentrations of approximately 40 ng/mL are sufficient to reach the full cardiovascular, respiratory, and analgesic effects of fentanyl in the rhesus monkey. Significant respiratory and analgesic effects are evident at concentrations as low as 3 ng/mL. These effects of fentanyl are similar to those previously reported in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthetics, intravenous, fentanyl-pharmacologic effects in rhesus monkeys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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