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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Sep 2023 - 8 Sep 2023


Human Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Sep 07



Randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of a combination of alpha-lipoic acid and pregabalin for neuropathic pain: the PAIN-CARE trial.


Gilron I, Robb S, Tu D, Holden RR, Jackson AC, Duggan S, Milev R


We compared a combination of the nonsedating antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), with the sedating anticonvulsant, pregabalin, vs each monotherapy to treat neuropathic pain due to peripheral neuropathies. In this randomized, double-blind, 3-period crossover trial, participants received oral ALA, pregabalin, and their combination-each for 6 weeks. The primary outcome was mean daily pain intensity at maximal tolerated doses (MTD); secondary outcomes included quality of life (SF-36), sleep (Medical Outcomes Study-Sleep Scale), adverse effects, drug doses, and other measures. Of 55 participants randomized (20-diabetic neuropathy, 19-small fiber neuropathy, and 16-other neuropathies), 46 completed 2 periods, and 44 completed 3. At MTD, the primary outcome of mean pain intensity (0-10) was 5.32 (standard error, SE = 0.18), 3.96 (0.25), 3.25 (0.25), and 3.16 (0.25) at baseline, ALA, pregabalin, and combination, respectively (P < 0.01 for ALA vs combination and pregabalin). Treatment differences were similar in subgroups with diabetic neuropathy and with other neuropathies. SF-36 total scores (higher number indicates better quality of life) were 66.6 (1.88), 70.1 (1.88), and 69.4 (1.87) with ALA, pregabalin, and combination (P < 0.05 for ALA vs combination and pregabalin). At MTD, there were no statistically significant treatment differences in adverse effects or drug doses. This trial demonstrates superiority of pregabalin vs ALA but provides no evidence to suggest added benefit of combining ALA with pregabalin to treat neuropathic pain.