Nalfurafine, a G-Protein–Biased KOR (Kappa Opioid Receptor) Agonist, Enhances the Diuretic Response and Limits Electrolyte Losses to Standard-of-Care Diuretics

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Nalfurafine is a G-protein–biased KOR (kappa opioid receptor) agonist that produces analgesia and lacks central nervous system adverse effects. Here, we examined the cardiovascular and renal responses to intravenous and oral nalfurafine alone and in combination with furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, or amiloride. We hypothesized that nalfurafine, given its distinct mechanism of vasopressin inhibition, would increase urine output to these diuretics and limit electrolyte loss. Following catheterization, conscious Sprague-Dawley rats received an isotonic saline infusion and were then administered an intravenous bolus of nalfurafine, a diuretic, or a combination. Mean arterial pressure, heart rate, and urine output were recorded for 90 minutes. In another study, rats were placed in metabolic cages and administered drug in an oral volume load. Hourly urine samples were then collected for 5 hours. Intravenous and oral nalfurafine produced a marked diuresis, antinatriuresis, antikaliuresis, and a decrease in mean arterial pressure. Compared with diuretic treatment alone, intravenous coadministration with nalfurafine significantly increased urine output to furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide and decreased sodium and potassium excretion. Notably, mean arterial pressure was reduced with nalfurafine/diuretic combination therapy compared to diuretics alone. Similarly, oral coadministration of nalfurafine significantly increased urine output to hydrochlorothiazide and decreased sodium and potassium excretion, whereas combination with furosemide only limited the amount of sodium excreted. Further, both intravenous and oral coadministration of nalfurafine enhanced the diuresis to amiloride and decreased sodium excretion. Together, these findings demonstrate that nalfurafine enhances the diuresis to standard-of-care diuretics without causing an excessive loss of electrolytes, offering a new approach to treat several cardiovascular conditions.

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