How Chronic Pain Alters the Immune System?
A new study by Laura Stone and Moshe Szyf, McGill University researchers, showed that chronic pain may how the way genes work. These findings were published in the journal, Scientific Reports.
According to the Moshe Szyf, “We found that chronic pain changes the way DNA is marked not only in the brain but also in T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for immunity. Our findings highlight the devastating impact of chronic pain on other important parts of the body such as the immune system.”
Chronic pain is a poorly understood condition and its treatments remain largely underdeveloped, is one of the leading cause of disability worldwide and can seriously affect a person's quality of life. Pain is considered as chronic when it lasts for 6 months or more.
The McGill scientific team examined DNA from brains and white blood cells of rats. Laura Stone, co-author explained,“Methyl marks are important for regulating how these genes function.” Further, Moshe Szyf added, “We were surprised by the sheer number of genes that were marked by the chronic pain – hundreds to thousands of different genes were changed. We can now consider the implications that chronic pain might have on other systems in the body that we don’t normally associate with pain.” These findings could open new channels for treating chronic pain in humans, the researchers suggest.