In vitro and in vivo pharmacology of kratom

Takato Hiranita, Samuel Obeng, Abhisheak Sharma, Jenny L. Wilkerson, Christopher R. McCurdy, Lance R Mcmahon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Kratom products have been historically and anecdotally used in south Asian countries for centuries to manage pain and opioid withdrawal. The use of kratom products has dramatically increased in the United States. More than 45 kratom alkaloids have been isolated, yet the overall pharmacology of the individual alkaloids is still not well characterized. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize in vitro and in vivo opioid activities of the primary kratom alkaloid mitragynine and its more potent metabolite 7-hydroxymitragynine. Following are experimental procedures described to characterize opioid receptor activity; receptor binding and functional assays, antinociceptive assays, operant conditioning assays, and respiratory plethysmography. The capacity of kratom alkaloids to confer tolerance and physical dependence as well as their pharmacokinetic properties are also summarized. The data reviewed here suggest that kratom products and mitragynine possess low efficacy agonist activity at the mu-opioid receptor in vivo. In addition, kratom products and mitragynine have been demonstrated to antagonize the effects of high efficacy mu-opioid agonists. The data further suggest that 7-hydroxymitragynine formed in vivo by metabolism of mitragynine may be minimally involved in the overall behavioral profile of mitragynine and kratom, whereas 7-hydroxymitragynine itself, at sufficiently high doses administered exogenously, shares many of the same abuse- and dependence-related behavioral effects associated with traditional opioid agonists. The apparent low efficacy of kratom products and mitragynine at mu-opioid receptors supports the development of these ligands as effective and potentially safe medications for opioid use disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBehavioral Pharmacology of Drug Abuse
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Status
EditorsJun-Xu Li
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages42
ISBN (Print)9780323915267
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)1054-3589
ISSN (Electronic)1557-8925


  • 7-Hydroxymitragynine
  • Antinociception
  • Drug discrimination
  • Kratom
  • Mitragynine
  • Opioid
  • Place conditioning
  • Receptor binding
  • Schedule-controlled responding
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'In vitro and in vivo pharmacology of kratom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this