Correlation between interleukin-6 levels and methadone maintenance therapy outcomes

Ru Band Lu, Tzu Yun Wang, Sheng Yu Lee, Shiou Lan Chen, Yun Hsuan Chang, Po See Chen, Shih Hsien Lin, Chun Hsien Chu, San Yuan Huang, Nian Sheng Tzeng, I. Hui Lee, Kao Chin Chen, Yen Kuang Yang, Ping Chen, Shih Heng Chen, Jau Shyong Hong

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The outcome of methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) varies in each patient with opioid use disorder (OUD). Opioid abuse activates proinflammatory processes by increasing cytokine production and impairing neurotrophic factor expression, and possibly leads to a vicious cycle that hinders recovery. Therefore, we investigated whether markers of inflammation and neurotrophic expression correlate with the MMT outcomes in OUD patients. Method: We investigated OUD patients undergoing MMT and followed them up for 12 weeks. We measured plasma tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), urinary morphine tests, and plasma morphine levels at baseline and on weeks 1, 4, 8, and 12 during MMT. Multiple linear regressions and generalized estimating equations (GEEs) were used to examine the correlation between the cytokine and BDNF levels and MMT outcomes. Results: We initially enrolled 104 patients, but only 78 patients completed end-of-study assessments. Plasma levels of CRP, TGF-β1, and BDNF fell during MMT. Plasma IL-6 levels were significantly associated with plasma morphine levels (P = 0.005) and urinary morphine-positive (+) results (P = 0.04), and significantly associated with poor compliance (P = 0.009) and early dropout from MMT (P = 0.001). However, other cytokine and BDNF levels were not consistently associated with MMT outcomes. Conclusion: Higher IL-6 levels were associated with poor MMT outcomes. Additional studies on regulating IL-6 expression to improve treatment outcomes in OUD patients might be warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107516
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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