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Increased Free Radical Levels May Cause Fibromyalgia

  [ 751 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 19, 2004

A DGReview of: "Free radicals and antioxidants in primary fibromyalgia: an oxidative stress disorder?"

Rheumatology International


By Mary Beth Nierengarten

Fibromyalgia may be an oxidative disorder as indicated by the increased levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and decreased levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in patients with this disease, reports a study from Turkey.

Although the aetiology of fibromyalgia remains unknown, recent data suggest that the oxidant/antioxidant balance may play a role in its development.

Based on the hypothesis that a balance discordance in the oxidant/antioxidant status may indicate that fibromyalgia is an oxidative disorder, Selda Bagis, MD, Mersin University Medical School, and colleagues compared the oxidant/antioxidant status of 85 women with primary fibromyalgia to that of 80 healthy, age-, weight-, and height-matched women. Along with evaluation of sex hormone profiles and routine blood, sedimentation, thyroid, C-reactive, liver, and kidney function tests, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and duration of disease were also documented for all patients. Pain was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS) and the presence and number of tender points were recorded. Assessment of the oxidant/antioxidant status was based on measuring MDA, which is a marker of free radical damage, and SOD, which shows antioxidant capacity.

In patients with fibromyalgia, MDA levels were significantly higher (P = .000) and SOD levels significantly lower (P = .000) than in the control patients. Number of tender points and VAS were not significantly associated with MDA or SOD (P > .05), and no correlation was found between BMI, age, duration of disease and MDA or SOD (P > .05).

These data suggest, claim the authors, that the "oxidant/antioxidant imbalance related to the disease process, and the increase in free radical levels may be responsible for the development of fibromyalgia."

The authors conclude that these data support their hypothesis that fibromyalgia is an oxidative disorder, and that additional larger studies are needed for validation.

Rheumatol Int 2003 Dec 20;[Epub ahead of print]. "Free radicals and antioxidants in primary fibromyalgia: an oxidative stress disorder?"

Source: Doctor’s Guide (DG) online. (C) Doctor's Guide, online at

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