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Papers: 23 Mar 2024 - 29 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 26



Characterizing the opioidergic mechanisms of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation-induced analgesia: a randomized controlled trial.


Liu Y, Sun J, Wu C, Ren J, He Y, Sun N, Huang H, Chen Q, Liu D, Huang Y, Xu F, Yu L, Fitzgibbon BM, Cash RFH, Fitzgerald PB, Yan M, Che X


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a promising technology to reduce chronic pain. Investigating the mechanisms of rTMS analgesia holds the potential to improve treatment efficacy. Using a double-blind and placebo-controlled design at both stimulation and pharmacologic ends, this study investigated the opioidergic mechanisms of rTMS analgesia by abolishing and recovering analgesia in 2 separate stages across brain regions and TMS doses. A group of 45 healthy participants were equally randomized to the primary motor cortex (M1), the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and the Sham group. In each session, participants received an intravenous infusion of naloxone or saline before the first rTMS session. Participants then received a second dose of rTMS session after the drugs were metabolized at 90 minutes. M1-rTMS-induced analgesia was abolished by naloxone compared with saline and was recovered by the second rTMS run when naloxone was metabolized. In the DLPFC, double but not the first TMS session induced significant pain reduction in the saline condition, resulting in less pain compared with the naloxone condition. In addition, TMS over the M1 or DLPFC selectively increased plasma concentrations of β-endorphin or encephalin, respectively. Overall, we present causal evidence that opioidergic mechanisms are involved in both M1-induced and DLPFC-rTMS-induced analgesia; however, these are shaped by rTMS dosage and the release of different endogenous opioids.