Pharmacokinetics of dextromethorphan and its metabolites in horses following a single oral administration

Carley R. Corado, Daniel S. Mckemie, Heather K Knych

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Dextromethorphan is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) non-competitive antagonist commonly used in human medicine as an antitussive. Dextromethorphan is metabolized in humans by cytochrome P450 2D6 into dextrorphan, which is reported to be more potent than the parent compound. The goal of this study is to describe the metabolism of and determine the pharmacokinetics of dextromethorphan and its major metabolites following oral administration to horses. A total of 23 horses received a single oral dose of 2mg/kg. Blood samples were collected at time 0 and at various times up to 96h post drug administration. Urine samples were collected from 12 horses up to 120h post administration. Plasma and urine samples were analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and the resulting data analyzed using non-compartmental analysis. The Cmax, Tmax, and the t1/2 of dextromethorphan were 519.4ng/mL, 0.55h, and 12.4h respectively. The area under the curve of dextromethorphan, free dextrorphan, and conjugated dextrorphan were 563.8, 2.19, and 6,691h*ng/mL respectively. In addition to free and glucuronidated dextrorphan, several additional glucuronide metabolites were identified in plasma, including hydroxyl-desmethyl dextrorphan, desmethyl dextrorphan, and three forms of hydroxylated dextrorphan. Dextromethorphan was found to be eliminated from the urine predominately as the O-demethylated metabolite, dextrorphan. Several additional metabolites including several novel hydroxy-dextrorphan metabolites were also detected in the urine in both free and glucuronidated forms. No significant undesirable behavioural effects were noted throughout the duration of the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Dextromethorphan
  • Dextrorphan
  • Horse
  • Metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Racehorse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Spectroscopy


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