Reduction of conditioned pain modulation in humans by naltrexone: An exploratory study of the effects of pain catastrophizing

Christopher D. King, Burel Goodin, Lindsay L. Kindler, Robert M. Caudle, Robert R. Edwards, Nikolaus Gravenstein, Joseph L. Riley, Roger B. Fillingim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The current study tested the hypothesis that conditioned pain modulation is mediated by the release of endogenous opioids with a placebo-controlled (sugar pill) study of naltrexone (50 mg) in 33 healthy volunteers over two counter-balanced sessions. Pain modulation consisted of rating of heat pain (palm) during concurrent cold water immersion (foot). Compared to baseline heat pain ratings, concurrent foot immersion lowered pain intensity ratings, which suggests an inhibitory effect, was reduced with naltrexone, suggesting at least partial dependence of inhibition on endogenous opioids. An exploratory analysis revealed that individual differences in catastrophizing moderated the effects of naltrexone; endogenous opioid blockade abolished modulation in subjects lower in catastrophizing while modulation was unaffected by naltrexone among high catastrophizers. The results suggest a role of endogenous opioids in endogenous analgesia, but hint that multiple systems might contribute to conditioned pain modulation, and that these systems might be differentially activated as a function of individual differences in responses to pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-327
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Catastrophizing
  • Conditioned pain modulation
  • Diffuse noxious inhibitory control
  • Endogenous opioids
  • Heat pain
  • Naltrexone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduction of conditioned pain modulation in humans by naltrexone: An exploratory study of the effects of pain catastrophizing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this