Low-Dose Naltrexone Appears Stable for Long-Term Multiple Sclerosis Control

OCTOBER 13, 2016
Dava Stewart
neurology, neurologists, autoimmune disease, MS, MS treatment, primary care, MS diagnosis, relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, rrms, multiple sclerosis, internal medicine, MS treatment, exercise, leisure, naltrexoneLow-dose naltrexone (LDN) appears to be safe for patients with multiple sclerosis even when taken long term. A paper describing the research, authored by Michael Ludwig of the Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences at the Pennsylvania University College of Medicine, and colleagues, was published recently in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal -- Experimental, Translational and Clinical.
 
The authors assert that, despite the development of disease modifying therapies (DMTs), “there remains a need to identify inexpensive and non-toxic therapies that target the underlying pathophysiology of autoimmune disorders.” They go on to say, “Blockade of the opioid growth factor (OGF)-OGF receptor (OGFr) pathway with low dose naltrexone (LDN) has been explored as one such therapy.”
 
LDN has been studied as a potential treatment for cancer, as well as Crohn’s disease, and fibromyalgia, and each of the trials has been shown to be non-toxic. Furthermore, “At least three clinical trials have been published in which LDN was found to increase the quality of life of MS patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) or secondary progressive MS and significantly improve mental health,” say the researchers.
 
“The purpose of this study is not a prospective efficacy trial, but rather a retrospective study to assess whether those patients on only LDN experienced an exacerbation of MS or had any deleterious events relative to patients prescribed LDN and the DMT,” say the authors.
 
In order to investigate, the researchers looked at “behavioral data, clinical laboratory blood values, as well as interpretation of MRIs over a period of 10 years,” they say, and found that patients diagnosed with RRMS who were receiving only LDN experienced no significant adverse effects.  Additionally, the authors report LDN “does not appear to increase MRI activity or alter regular blood tests of liver, kidney and hematopoietic function.”
 
The authors suggest that there is a need for prospective clinical studies to examine the efficacy of LDN, and that the results of the present study indicate such studies could be safe up to 3 years. Clinicians treating patients who are reluctant to take DMTs due to cost or other concerns may find LDN a viable alternative. The researchers conclude, “these data support and warrant prospective clinical studies of MS, examining treatment outcome in patients receiving LDN only.”
 
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