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Biochem Pharmacol. 2003 Jun 1;65(11):1761-6.

Opioid-induced immunosuppression: is it centrally mediated or peripherally mediated?

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Department of Anesthesia & Critical Care, The University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 4028, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Opioid compounds are commonly used pain medications. However, their administration is associated with a number of side-effects. Among them, opioid-induced immunosuppression is a significant medical problem, which is evidenced by a strong association between the use of opioids and exacerbated infections, including AIDS. Research data have demonstrated the effects of opioids to be suppressive on phagocytic, natural killer (NK), B and T cells. However, these immunosuppressive effects may be mediated by mechanisms different from those for antinociceptive actions. This article reviews possible central and peripheral mechanisms of opioid-induced immunosuppression. To the extent that peripherally mediated immunosuppressive effects play a significant role in opioid-induced immunosuppression, novel peripheral opioid antagonists may have a therapeutic role in attenuating opioid-induced immunosuppression without affecting analgesia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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