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Papers: 2 Mar 2024 - 7 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 06



Ketogenic diet mitigates opioid-induced hyperalgesia by restoring short-chain fatty acids-producing bacteria in the gut.


Crawford J, Liu S, Tao R, Kramer P, Bender S, Tao F


Opioids are commonly prescribed to patients with chronic pain. Chronic opioid usage comes with a slew of serious side effects, including opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). The patients with long-term opioid treatment experience paradoxical increases in nociceptive hypersensitivity, namely, OIH. Currently, treatment options for OIH are extremely lacking. In this study, we show that the ketogenic diet recovers the abnormal pain behavior caused by chronic morphine treatment in male mice, and we further show that the therapeutic effect of the ketogenic diet is mediated through gut microbiome. Our 16S rRNA sequencing demonstrates that chronic morphine treatment causes changes in mouse gut microbiota, specifically a decrease in short-chain fatty acids-producing bacteria, and the sequencing data also show that the ketogenic diet rescues those bacteria in the mouse gut. More importantly, we show that supplementation with short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, and acetate) can delay the onset of OIH, indicating that short-chain fatty acids play a direct role in the development of OIH. Our findings suggest that gut microbiome could be targeted to treat OIH, and the ketogenic diet can be used as a complementary approach for pain relief in patients with chronic opioid treatment. We only used male mice in this study, and thus, our findings cannot be generalized to both sexes.