Ondansetron Does Not Affect Alfentanil-induced Ventilatory Depression or Sedation

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Ondansetron is a selective 5-hydroxytryptamine type 3 receptor antagonist effective as an antiemetic in patients experiencing postoperative or cancer chemotherapy–induced nausea and vomiting. Currently, no information is available regarding the interaction of ondansetron with opioids, although a serotonin antagonist might be expected to modify some opioid actions. This study was designed to measure the effects of ondansetron on alfentanil-induced ventilatory depression and sedation in healthy male volunteers. Ventilatory drive (measured as the end-tidal CO2 necessary to produce a minute ventilation of 151/min) was determined in 29 subjects using a modification of the Read rebreathing technique. Sedation was measured by asking the subjects to complete visual analog scales. Alfentanil was administered as a bolus (5 μgg/kg) followed by a continuous infusion (0.25–0.75 μgg.kg−1.min−1) for at least 90 min. Study medication (ondansetron 8 or 16 mg or vehicle placebo) was then administered in a randomized, double-blind manner, and the alfentanil was infused for an additional 15 min. Measurements of ventilatory drive and sedation were made at baseline, during alfentanil infusion, after study medication, and at 30-min intervals after alfentanil was discontinued. Alfentanil produced significant ventilatory depression (P < 0.001) and sedation (P < 0.001) in all three groups. Neither placebo nor ondansetron produced further change in the intensity of either alfentanil effect. After discontinuation of the opioid, both ventilatory depression and sedation decreased, and the rate of recovery was not significantly different between groups. The data indicate that alfentanil-induced sedation and ventilatory depression are not significantly affected by the subsequent administration of ondansetron.

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