Effects of opioid blockade on nociceptive flexion reflex thresholds and nociceptive responding in hypertensive and normotensive individuals.

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Hypertension and risk for hypertension have been associated with reduced pain sensitivity. It has been hypothesised that endogenous opioids contribute to this hypertensive hypoalgesia. The nociceptive flexion reflex can be used as a tool to investigate modulation of nociceptive transmission at spinal level. The current study employed a double-blind placebo-controlled design to compare the effects of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, and placebo on nociceptive flexion reflex thresholds and nociceptive responding in unmedicated patients with essential hypertension and normotensive individuals. Neither nociceptive flexion reflex thresholds nor nociceptive responding differed between hypertensives and normotensives during placebo or naltrexone. These data provide no support for the hypothesis that essential hypertension is characterised by higher levels of endogenous opioids in the central nervous system and reveal no association between blood pressure status and nociceptive flexion reflex responses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-100
Number of pages5
JournalInternational journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • endogenous opioids, naltrexone, hypertension, nociceptive flexion reflex threshold, nociceptive responding