Blockade of nocebo hyperalgesia by the cholecystokinin antagonist proglumide

Pain. 1997 Jun;71(2):135-40. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(97)03346-0.


In patients who reported mild postoperative pain, we evoked a nocebo response, a phenomenon equal but opposite to placebo. Patients who gave informed consent to increase their pain for 30 min received a substance known to be non-hyperalgesic (saline solution) and were told that it produced a pain increase. A nocebo effect was observed when saline was administered. However, if a dose of 0.5 or 5 mg of the cholecystokinin antagonist proglumide was added to the saline solution, the nocebo effect was abolished. A dose of 0.05 mg of proglumide was ineffective. The blockade of the nocebo hyperalgesic response was not reversed by 10 mg of naloxone. These results suggest that cholecystokinin mediates pain increase in the nocebo response and that proglumide blocks nocebo through mechanisms not involving opioids. Since the nocebo procedure represents an anxiogenic stimulus and previous studies showed a role for cholecystokinin in anxiety, we suggest that nocebo hyperalgesia may be due to a cholecystokinin-dependent increase of anxiety.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Cholecystokinin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naloxone
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology*
  • Placebo Effect
  • Proglumide / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Cholecystokinin
  • Proglumide