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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;7(4):1025-33. doi: 10.1007/s11481-012-9400-1. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Dextromethorphan attenuated inflammation and combined opioid use in humans undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.

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  • 1Institute of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.


Recent studies show that proinflammatory cytokines might be related to the development of opioid dependence (physiological, psychological, or both). In a double-blind, randomly stratified clinical trial investigating whether add-on dextromethorphan (60-120 mg/day) attenuated inflammation and the combined use of opioids in heroin-dependent patients undergoing methadone maintenance treatment, we evaluated whether inflammation is related to the progression of opioid dependence. All participants (107 heroin-dependent patients and 84 nondependent healthy controls) were recruited from National Cheng Kung University Hospital. Their plasma cytokine levels were measured to evaluate the effect of add-on dextromethorphan. Plasma TNF-α and IL-8 levels were significantly higher in long-term heroin-dependent patients than in healthy controls (p < 0.001). Chronic heroin-use-induced TNF-α and IL-8 levels were significantly (p < 0.05) attenuated in patients treated for 12 weeks with add-on dextromethorphan. Moreover, both tolerance to methadone and the combined use of opioids were significantly (p < 0.05) attenuated in patients taking dextromethorphan. We conclude that dextromethorphan might be a feasible adjuvant therapeutic for attenuating inflammation and inhibiting methadone tolerance and combined opioid use in heroin-dependent patients.

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