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Med Hypotheses. 2018 Sep;118:59-67. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2018.06.019. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

How chronic administration of benzodiazepines leads to unexplained chronic illnesses: A hypothesis.

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1
Benzodiazepine Information Coalition, 1042 Fort Union Blvd. Suite 1030, Midvale, UT 84047, United States. Electronic address: stephen@benzoinfo.com.

Abstract

It is thought that an ill defined biochemical cascade may lead to protracted withdrawal symptoms subsequent to discontinuance of routine use of benzodiazepine class drugs and establish chronic illness in some patients. In this review, published findings are presented that support the novel concept that withdrawal from benzodiazepine class drugs can trigger elevated and sustained levels of a potent oxidant called peroxynitrite via potentiation of the L-type voltage-gated calcium channels, and in the later stages of withdrawal, via excessive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activity, as well. Potentiation of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels and excessive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activity both result in calcium influx into the cell that triggers nitric oxide synthesis. In pathophysiological conditions, such increased nitric oxide synthesis leads to peroxynitrite formation. The downstream effects of peroxynitrite formation that may occur during withdrawal ultimately lead to further peroxynitrite production in a system of overlapping vicious cycles collectively referred to as the NO/ONOO(-) cycle. Once triggered, the elements of the NO/ONOO(-) cycle perpetuate pathophysiology, perhaps including reduced GABAA receptor functioning, that may explain protracted withdrawal associated symptoms while the vicious cycle nature of the NO/ONOO(-) cycle may explain how withdrawal becomes a chronic state. Suboptimal levels of tetrahydrobiopterin may be one risk factor for the development of the protracted withdrawal syndrome as this will lead to partial nitric oxide uncoupling and resultant peroxynitrite formation. Nitric oxide uncoupling results in superoxide production as calcium-dependent nitric oxide synthases attempt to produce nitric oxide in response to L-type voltage-gated calcium channel-mediated calcium influx that is known to occur during withdrawal. The combination of nitric oxide and superoxide produced, as when partial uncoupling occurs, react together in a very rapid, diffusion limited reaction to form peroxynitrite and thereby trigger the NO/ONOO(-) cycle. The NO/ONOO(-) cycle may explain the nature of the protracted withdrawal syndrome and the related constellation of symptoms that are also common in other illnesses characterized as NO/ONOO(-) disorders such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

PMID:
30037616
DOI:
10.1016/j.mehy.2018.06.019
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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