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Evaluation of the efficacy of memantine in the treatment of fibromyalgia: study protocol for a doubled-blind randomized controlled trial with six-month follow-up

Bárbara Olivan-Blázquez12, Marta Puebla2, Bárbara Masluk2, Mari-Cruz Pérez-Yus2, Raquel Arcega2, Eva Andrés3, Yolanda López-del-Hoyo12, Rosa Magallon24, Miquel Roca25 and Javier Garcia-Campayo267*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology and Sociology, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

2 Red de Actividades Preventivas y de Promoción de la Salud (REDIAPP) (RD06/0018), Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud (IACS), Aragón, Spain

3 Unidad Epidemiología Clínica, Hospital 12 de Octubre, CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Madrid, Spain

4 Centro de Salud Arrabal, Zaragoza, Spain

5 Institut Universitari d'Investigació en Ciències de la Salut (IUNICS), University of Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

6 Servicio de Psiquiatría, Hospital Miguel Servet y Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

7 Department of Psychiatry, Miguel Servet Hosìal, Avda Isabel La Catolica 1, 50.009, Zaragoza, Spain

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Trials 2013, 14:3  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-3

Published: 3 January 2013



Fibromyalgia is a prevalent chronic rheumatic disease of great clinical importance. Recent studies have found raised levels of glutamate in the insula, hippocampus and posterior cingulate cortex regions of the brains of fibromyalgia (FM) patients. This finding has led researchers to speculate about the usefulness of glutamate-blocking drugs such as memantine in the treatment of fibromyalgia. The hypothesis of this study is that the administration of memantine will reduce the glutamate levels, and futhermore, will decrease the perceived pain. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of memantine in the treatment of pain (pain perception). A secondary objective is to evaluate the efficacy of memantine in the treatment of other clinical symptoms of FM, and to evaluate the efficacy of memantine in reducing brain levels of glutamate, and its effects on the central nervous system as a whole.


A double-blind parallel randomized controlled trial. Participants, Seventy patients diagnosed with FM will be recruited from primary health care centers in Zaragoza, Spain. Intervention. The subjects will be randomized in two groups: A) A treatment group (n = 35), which will receive 20 mg of memantine daily; B) A control group (n = 35), to which will be administered a placebo. There will be a six-month follow-up period (including a titration period of one month). Outcomes. The main efficacy variable of this study is pain (pain perception). The secondary efficacy variables are clinical symptoms (pain threshold, cognitive function, health status, anxiety, depression, clinical impression and quality of life) and glutamate levels in different regions of the brain, which will be assessed by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Randomization and blinding. Randomization has been computer-generated, and the random allocation sequence will be implemented by telephone. Subjects of the study and the research assistants will be blinded to group assignment.


There is a need for the development of innovative and more effective treatments for fibromyalgia. This clinical trial will determine whether memantine can be an effective pharmacological treatment for fibromyalgia patients.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials http://ISRCTN45127327 webcite EUDRACT 2011-006244-73

Fibromyalgia; Memantine; Chronic pain; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Randomized controlled trial