Antagonism of Nitrous Oxide Analgesia by Naloxone in Man

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The possible reversal of nitrous oxide analgesia by naloxone was investigated. Two studies were conducted in 21 healthy male subjects, who responded to ischemic pain produced by tourniquet applied to the upper arm for 15 min, while breathing air or nitrous oxide, 33 per cent. Using a double-blind procedure, the subjects received intravenous injections of naloxone and saline solution on different days. In eight subjects, naloxone, 8 mg, administered without nitrous oxide, had no effect on pain report. However, unlike saline solution, naloxone, 8 mg, decreased significantly the analgesia induced by nitrous oxide. In 13 subjects, naloxone, 4 mg, also decreased significantly the effect of nitrous oxide analgesia in comparison with saline solution. Naloxone showed its reversal effect mainly on sensory response ratings obtained during the painful stages of ischemia, between 11 and 15 min. The results suggest that analgesia induced by nitrous oxide may be partly related to the opiate receptor-endorphin system in man.

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