Assessment of opiate modulation of pain and nociceptive responding in young adults with a parental history of hypertension

Christopher R. France, Mustafa N al'Absi, Christopher Ring, Janis L. France, John Brose, Donald Spaeth, Angie Harju, Glenn Nordehn, Lorentz E. Wittmers

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37 Scopus citations


This double blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of an opiate antagonist, naltrexone, on nociceptive flexion reflex (NFR) thresholds and subjective pain in individuals with and without a parental history of hypertension. Using a repeated measures design, NFR threshold was repeatedly assessed on two testing days after administration of either placebo or naltrexone. Immediately after NFR threshold was determined, participants rated the level of pain experienced during the preceding NFR assessment, and at the end of each session participants' electrocutaneous pain threshold was assessed. Two primary findings were obtained. First, individuals with a parental history of hypertension exhibited attenuated pain sensitivity. Second, endogenous opioid blockade was associated with increased pain ratings in women but with increased pain threshold in men. In sum, the present study did not support a direct involvement of the endogenous opioid system in the attenuated pain sensitivity observed in individuals at increased risk for hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-174
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI R01 HL64794).


  • Endogenous opiates
  • NFR
  • Nociception
  • Risk for hypertension


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