Low-dose memantine might have anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic effects mechanistically remote from an NMDA receptor. We investigated whether add-on memantine reduced cytokine levels and benefitted patients with opioid dependence undergoing methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) in a randomized, double-blind, controlled 12-week study. Patients were randomly assigned to a group: Memantine (5 mg/day) (n = 53) or Placebo (n = 75). The methadone dose required and retention in treatment were monitored. Plasma tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels were examined during weeks 0, 1, 4, 8, and 12. General linear mixed models were used to examine therapeutic effect. After 12 weeks, Memantine-group required a somewhat lower methadone dose than did Placebo-group (P = 0.039). They also had significantly lower plasma TNF-α and significantly higher TGF-β1 levels. We provide evidence of the benefit of add-on memantine in opioid dependent patients undergoing MMT.
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