Activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) results in increased sensitivity of spinal cord and brain pathways that process sensory information, particularly those which relate to pain. The NMDAR shows increased activity in fibromyalgia and hence modulation of the NMDAR is a target for therapeutic intervention. A literature review of interventions impacting on the NMDAR shows a number of drugs to be active on the NMDAR mechanism in fibromyalgia patients, with variable clinical effects. Low-dose intravenous ketamine and oral memantine both show clinically useful benefit in fibromyalgia. However, consideration of side-effects, logistics and cost need to be factored into management decisions regarding use of these drugs in this clinical setting. Overall benefits with current NMDAR antagonists appear modest and there is a need for better strategy trials to clarify optimal dose schedules and to delineate potential longer-term adverse events. Further investigation of the role of the NMDAR in fibromyalgia and the effect of other molecules that modulate this receptor appear important to enhance treatment targets in fibromyalgia.
- NMDA receptor