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Adrienne Dellwo

Is an Enzyme Called GAD Responsible for Fibromyalgia?

By June 22, 2011

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Research Brief

A recently published hypothesis raises the possibility that an enzyme involved in type-1 diabetes may also be an underlying cause of fibromyalgia (FMS).

The enzyme is glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) -- specifically, a form called GAD65. It's primary job is to help turn a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain) called glutamate into another neurotransmitter called GABA. Glutamtate is an excitotoxin, meaning it gets areas of the brain over stimulated to potentially dangerous levels, while GABA calms the brain. Some research shows that FMS involves an imbalance of these two chemicals.

In the journal Medical Hypotheses, researchers lay out several reasons they believe problems with GAD levels or activity could play a critical role in this condition:

  1. Mice without GAD65 develop hyperalgesia, which is a key symptom of FMS;
  2. GAD plays a role in other disorders involving muscle stiffness and rigidity, similar to the morning stiffness common in FMS;
  3. GAD activity is decreased by stress, depression and anxiety, all of which are common in FMS;
  4. The poor deep sleep of FMS could hamper GAD activity in the brain;
  5. A component of GAD, called cofactor pyroxidine, is more likely to be low in women, and women are more likely to develop FMS;
  6. Obesity and sedentary lifestyle are risk factors for FMS, while low-calorie diets and exercise have been shown to increase both expression and activity of GAD.

The researchers are calling for studies looking at GAD expression and activity in FMS to see what role, if any, it might play.

Some interesting facts about GAD65 that weren't discussed in the paper also could lend support for the hypothesis.

GAD65 plays a role in type-1 (juvenile-onset) diabetes. Blood-sugar issues, including diabetes, are common in people with FMS (although the adult-onset form is most common.)

Additionally, the fibromyalgia drug Lyrica (pregabalin) is believed to increase GAD activity and therefore raise GABA levels. This is also true of the supplement valerian root, which is sometimes recommended for helping improve sleep in FMS.

GAD levels can be hampered by poor diet, tobacco use and alcohol, all of which have been shown to exacerbate FMS symptoms.

The researchers behind the hypothesis conclude that interventions -- both medicinal and behavioral -- aimed at altering or mimicking the effects of GAD could be effective for treating FMS.

Learn more or join the conversation!


June 22, 2011 at 11:18 am
(1) Hughes Drew says:

World is progressing in an incessant way in every field. The field of medicine is not lagging behind, too. Various medicinal inventions are making life simpler and smoother. Large numbers of pain killers are also available in the market which reliefs from pain. But, some of them have addictive properties, if misused. Two of such are heroin and oxycodone.

A blog of Findrxonline indicates that Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever synthesized from thebaine. It is an opioid analgesic ways used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is an oral ways generally prescribed in low dosage because, high dosage may be addictive in many cases.

Proviron is generally used to provide relief after intensive surgical procedure. Most popularly used for the treatment of chronic pain, it is also used for the treatment of neck pain, fibromyalgia, etc. The use of oxycodone also reduce the risk of osteoarthritis and used for the treatment of cancer.

June 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm
(2) momlady says:

So I wonder, is this related to the sensitivity, experienced by many with FM, to things high in glutamate, like MSG – the “G” in MSG being glutamate.

June 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm
(3) marymargaret says:

interesting..momlady brings up a good question…ingesting MSG in even a very low amount sends me into a flare.

June 22, 2011 at 8:19 pm
(4) Debbie says:

Interesting article….My father and his father both had Type-1 Diabetes (and died from complications). In the past few months I had a false positive ANA test for autoimmune disease. My doctor told me that someone in my family probably had a autoimmune disease such as Lupus and that is why I had false-positive result. Is Type-1 Diabetes considered to be a auto-immune disease?? I have since been diagnosed with Fibromylagia, from the sounds of this article there is a connection w/ my family history of diabetes.

June 25, 2011 at 12:30 am
(5) Jennifer says:

Debbie, reading your comment made my mouth pop open. I am the same as you, my father passed away at age 34 from complications of type 1 diabetes and others in his family died from it as well (going back many generations). While I do not have diabetes I do have Fibromyalgia (diagnosed about 5 years ago though I think I’ve had it for way longer). After a test a few years ago I tested positive with one marker for Lupus and RA. I am fascinated by these findings that type 1 diabetes and FMS could be linked. It makes a lot of sense!

June 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm
(6) Debbie says:

Thanks for responding, Jennifer. I wonder how many others are in similar situations. I’m hoping this research will continue. Would love to participate in a study, if one becomes available. Take care,

June 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm
(7) Chris Lyons says:

I’ve been a type-1 diabetic for close to 25 years and a Fibro sufferer for at least the last 7 years. It certainly appears there are linkages between the conditions and it’s good that researchers are finally moving down that road. The link between thyroid issues & Fibro (as well as type-1 diabetes) is also strong. Type-1 diabetes & hyrothyroidism are certainly auto-immune problems, so is Fibro? Will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years.

June 27, 2011 at 12:40 am
(8) katydogcrazy says:

“A component of GAD, called cofactor pyroxidine, is more likely to be low in women, …” a part of point #5 in the above article is a bit misleading.

Pyroxidine is NOT a component of GAD, but is a cofactor – that is, pyroxidine must ALSO be present for GAD to be able to do its thing. Pyroxidine is just a technical term for Vitamin B6.

June 27, 2011 at 11:55 am
(9) Kathy says:

Wow! Fabulous article! So much of this and the comments left are pertinent and make so much sense. I feel so much better with a lower calorie diet (a lot less sugar). Diabetes is on both sides of my family. I wonder if they did a study what the corellation of FMS and a family history of diabetes is what they would find. From the comments, it sounds pretty strong. I’m on a low dose of Lyrica and found it to be quite helpful managing my symptoms.

Be well, everyone!

March 29, 2013 at 9:49 am
(10) Kelly Lynne says:

I have been curious about the role of Gad since my neurologist found repeated elevated levels on my gad65 blood work. I am not sure this is The cause, but would love to see more research in this area.
It has made me far more aware of how much MSG in all its guises is in food.

February 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm
(11) Marline says:

Valerian should not be used for more than two weeks, as it becomes habit forming. Also, it does raise cholesterol.

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