Fibromyalgia (FM) patients treated with a low dose of Revia/Vivitrol (naltrexone) showed improved pain symptoms, a pilot study found. These patients also experienced significantly reduced inflammatory markers in their blood.
The results, which addressed the use of Revia/Vivitrol in eight women with FM, were reported in a study titled, “Reduced Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines after Eight Weeks of Low-Dose Naltrexone for Fibromyalgia,” published in the journal Biomedicines.
FM is not a classical inflammatory or immune-mediated condition, but the immune system is thought to be involved in the disease’s development. Revia/Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors and inhibits inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease patients. The research team investigated the impact of this medication in blood inflammatory markers in FM patients.
The team recruited women aged 18 to 65 (average age of 46) with a diagnosis of FM, according to the American College of Rheumatology 2010 diagnostic criteria. Researchers studied the women during two weeks before treatment to define a reference baseline.
After this period, each participant self-administered a low dose of Revia/Vivitrol (4.5 mg), taken in capsule form at least one hour before going to bed at night.
During the eight-week treatment, researchers collected patients’ blood twice a week to measure markers of inflammation, namely pro-inflammatory cytokines. They also collected information about pain levels and tolerance to the medication.
At the end of the study, the team observed a significant reduction in inflammatory biomarkers in the blood, namely several cytokines (TNF-α, IL-15, IL-17A, G-CSF, IFN-α, among others). Researchers also found a significant reduction of FM–associated pain (15%) and overall symptoms (18%) when compared to the baseline.
The results support the hypothesis that Revia/Vivitrol may help ease chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, by acting as an atypical anti-inflammatory medication. The results also suggest that the immune system plays a role in pain symptoms.
This study has limitations, including the small number of participants, its short duration, and the absence of FM patients receiving a placebo (control group). Future, larger placebo-controlled trials are required.
Nonetheless, “the findings of this pilot trial provide early evidence that LDN [naltrexone] treatment in FM may be associated with a reduction of several key pro-inflammatory cytokines. The potential role of LDN as an atypical anti-inflammatory medication should be explored further,” the authors wrote.