Gender differences in drug effects: implications for anesthesiologists.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

BACKGROUND: The gender aspect in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of anesthetics has attracted little attention. Knowledge of previous work is required to decide if gender-based differences in clinical practice is justified, and to determine the need for research. METHODS: Basis for this paper was obtained by Medline searches using the key words 'human' and 'gender' or 'sex,' combined with individual drug names. The reference lists of these papers were further checked for other relevant studies. RESULTS: Females have 20-30% greater sensitivity to the muscle relaxant effects of vecuronium, pancuronium and rocuronium. When rapid onset of or short duration of action is very important, gender-modified dosing may be considered. Males are more sensitive than females to propofol. It may therefore be necessary to decrease the propofol dose by 30-40% in males compared with females in order to achieve similar recovery times. Females are more sensitive than males to opioid receptor agonists, as shown for morphine as well as for a number of kappa (OP2) receptor agonists. On this basis, males will be expected to require 30-40% higher doses of opioid analgesics than females to achieve similar pain relief. On the other hand, females may experience respiratory depression and other adverse effects more easily if they are given the same doses as males. CONCLUSION: These examples illustrate that gender should be taken into account as a factor that may be predictive for the dosage of several anesthetic drugs. Moreover, there is an obvious need for more research in this area in order to further optimize drug treatment in anesthesia.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pleym, H; Spigset, O; Kharasch, ED; Dale, O

Published Date

  • March 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 241 - 259

PubMed ID

  • 12648189

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12648189

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0001-5172

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1034/j.1399-6576.2003.00036.x


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England