Microscopic features of the rat adrenal gland associated with chronic codeine phosphate administration
Codeine is an opioid analgesic and antitussive that has been widely abused. Some adverse effects noted with its abuse include adrenocortical insufficiency and activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The structural basis for these dysfunctions is not clearly understood. Twenty-five adult male rats were used for the study. They were divided into intervention and control groups that were administered 40 mg/kg of codeine phosphate and normal saline respectively by gavage daily for 50 days. Subsequently, both groups were given normal saline for a further fourteen days to note recovery changes. At day 0, 50 and 64, rats were randomly selected from both groups, euthanized and adrenal glands harvested for histological processing and analysis. At day 50 of codeine administration, the adrenal glands demonstrated an increase in zona fasciculata thickness but a decrease in zona reticularis thickness. Lower values were noted in the volume density of zona reticularis and cells count of the medulla in the experimental compared to the control groups (P-value<0.05). The experimental group also showed an increase in vascularization and connective tissue in the glands. After 14 days of recovery, most of the changes observed in experimental animals were reversed and the adrenal glands in both groups had similar features. A decrease in cell count of the adrenal medulla was however observed (P-value<0.05). In conclusion administration of codeine phosphate causes discernible changes in the microscopic structure of the adrenal gland, most of which appear to be reversed after two weeks recovery period.
Materials and Methods
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