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Effects of tramadol on synovial fluid concentrations of substance P and interleukin-6 in patients with knee osteoarthritis: comparison with paracetamol.

Author(s): Bianchi M, Broggini M, Balzarini P, Baratelli E, Ferrario P, Panerai AE, Sacerdote P

Affiliation(s): Department of Pharmacology, University of Milan, Via Vanvitelli, 32, 20129 Milan, Italy. mauro.bianchi@unimi.it

Publication date & source: 2003-12, Int Immunopharmacol., 3(13-14):1901-8.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Both the analgesic drugs tramadol and paracetamol are widely used for the symptomatic therapy of osteoarthritis (OA). The aim of this double-blind, randomised study in patients with knee OA was to compare their effects on synovial fluid concentrations of interleukin (IL)-6 and substance P (SP). Moreover, we evaluated plasma and synovial fluid concentrations of tramadol and its active metabolite (O-desmethyl-tramadol, M1) after oral treatment with this drug. Twenty patients were enrolled. A group of 10 patients received tramadol (50 mg three times a day), and another group of 10 patients were treated with paracetamol (500 mg three times a day) for 7 days. Both drugs significantly reduced the intensity of joint pain. The synovial fluid concentrations of SP were significantly reduced only by the treatment with tramadol. In this group of patients, IL-6 synovial fluid concentrations were slightly, but not significantly, decreased. Paracetamol did not significantly change the synovial fluid concentrations of SP and IL-6. After oral administration, a considerable amount of tramadol was measurable in synovial fluid. Both in plasma and synovial fluid the concentrations of M1 were markedly lower than those of tramadol, with a T/M1 ratio of 14.7+/-4.6 and 9.3+/-3.9, respectively. These data demonstrate that the activity of tramadol may involve the modulation of inflammatory mediators. Moreover, they indicate that after oral treatment with tramadol, both the parent drug and its active metabolite can penetrate into synovial fluid.

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