Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Inflammation linked to chronic pain: Study


An inflamed injury may increase levels of a protein responsible for persistent pain, causing the brain to mimic pain long after source has disappeared, says U of T researchers. The findings could have serious implications for the millions of Canadians who suffer from chronic pain.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, shows how inflammation in mice increases NR2B proteins – proteins that facilitate nerve cell communication – and imprint a painful response in brain even after the stimulus is removed. "What we’re interested in uncovering are the molecular mechanisms that can turn early pain into persistent pain," says Professor Min Zhuo of physiology, EJLB-CIHR Michael Smith Chair in Neurosciences and Mental Health and lead author of the study. "We believe that the body’s inflammatory response helps to etch the initial pain into our memory."

Normally when a mouse or a person experiences a painful event, receptors in the injury site send an electrical impulse up the spine and to the brain. The signal triggers receptors called glutamate AMPA and kainate, which flare up initially but do not directly alter the physiology of the cells. When the painful event also triggers inflammation, the nerves send extra information to the normally dormant NR2B receptors – receptors that receive messages and then produce physiological effects in the cell.

In the study, researchers injected a chemical irritant into the hind paws of mice, causing inflammation. They then tracked brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) – a region of the brain associated with pain and other functions such as decision-making and emotion. In tests performed one hour, six hours and one day after injection, they found that NR2B protein levels had increased over time. Previous research had already established a link between the protein and chronic pain. In an earlier study, Zhuo demonstrated that mice initially genetically enhanced with NR2B to boost memory and learning abilities also became acutely aware of minor pain for long periods of time. "Persistent pain caused by injury, learning and memory share the same common molecular mechanisms," Zhuo says. "By identifying these mechanisms we can greatly facilitate the treatment of chronic pain."

Zhuo hopes the findings will one day be used to create therapeutic solutions to conditions such as allodynia – a condition where even a gentle touch produces pain. Currently, pain-blocking drugs also target other brain activity – not just NR2B receptors – and can also block acute pain that acts as a body’s warning system.

"It’s essential that therapies don’t block the body’s entire pain system as pain often plays a valuable role," Zhuo says. "For instance, acute and immediate pain often tells us to remove ourselves from harm such as accidentally touching a hot plate. The key is to find a way to develop drugs that target only persistent pain thereby improving the patient’s quality of living."

Karen Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>