Opioid analgesics stop the development of clostridial gas gangrene

Anjana Chakravorty, Milena M Awad, Thomas J Hiscox, K-L Jackie Cheung, Jocelyn M F Choo, Dena Lyras, Julian I Rood

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Gas gangrene is a potentially fatal disease that is primarily caused by the ubiquitous, anaerobic bacteria Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium septicum. Treatment is limited to antibiotic therapy, debridement of the infected tissue, and, in severe cases, amputation. The need for new treatment approaches is compelling. Opioid-based analgesics such as buprenorphine and morphine also have immunomodulatory properties, usually leading to faster disease progression. However, here we show that mice pretreated with buprenorphine and morphine do not die from clostridial myonecrosis. Treatment with buprenorphine after the onset of infection also arrested disease development. Protection against myonecrotic disease was specific to C. perfringens-mediated myonecrosis; buprenorphine did not protect against disease caused by C. septicum infection even though infections due to both species are very similar. These data provide the first evidence of a protective role for opioids during infection and suggest that new therapeutic strategies may be possible for the treatment of C. perfringens-mediated myonecrosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483 - 492
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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