This mini-review presents information on the intermittent blockade of the opioid growth factor (OGF)-OGF receptor (OGFr) axis by low-dose naltrexone (LDN), and the role of enkephalin (i.e. OGF) in autoimmune disorders, specifically multiple sclerosis, Crohn's, and fibromyalgia. Clinical reports on subjects taking LDN have documented reduced fatigue, few side-effects, and improved overall health. Preclinical studies on mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of multiple sclerosis, revealed that immunization for EAE reduces serum OGF. Intermittent OGFr blockade with LDN restores serum enkephalin levels that correlate with reduced behavioral and pathological signs of EAE; LDN also increases enkephalin levels in naïve mice. The interplay between LDN, and the onset and treatment of autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, and other addictive behaviors requires further investigation, but highlights a central role for enkephalins and intermittent blockade of the OGF-OGFr pathway in pathogenesis and treatment of these disorders.
Keywords: Enkephalin; fibromyalgia; low-dose naltrexone; multiple sclerosis; opioid growth factor; opioid growth factor receptor.