A connection between fibromayalgia (FM) and cytokines (proteins that act as messengers between cells) was suspected after cancer patients treated with the cytokine interleukin -2 developed FM-like symptoms. Since then, other studies have shown contradictory results. A new study published in the August 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism examined cytokine profiles in patients with chronic widespread pain and found that they had significantly lower levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10.
Led by Nurcan Üçeyler of Julius-Maximilians University in Wurzburg, Germany, researchers analyzed cytokines in 40 patients with chronic widespread pain (26 of whom had FM), 40 controls and an additional group of 15 patients. The 40 pain patients had received intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) as a novel treatment for pain that was not responsive to standard therapy, while the additional 15 patients did not receive this treatment. Blood samples were analyzed for both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. In addition, patients were asked to rate their pain, fatigue, mood, cognitive function and sleep quality on a scale of 1 to 10.
Patients in the pain group did not differ in the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-2, IL-8 and TNFα, but did have significantly lower levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10 compared with the healthy control group. The 15 patients in the additional group showed similar findings, although the difference in IL-10 between this group and the controls was not statistically significant.
The authors point out that there may be several factors involved in the cause of low cytokine levels and how they might be linked to pain. Previous studies have shown that IL-10, administered as a protein or via gene transfer, reduces sensitivity to pain. Similarly, IL-4 has been shown to dull the pain response. "Signals arising through physiologic stimulation of the opioid receptor system may be reduced in patients with low IL-4 levels with subsequent increase in pain perception and the common relative opioid resistance seen in patients with chronic widespread pain," the authors note. In addition, genetic variations in different cytokine genes are associated with distinct diseases, such as the association between IL-4 gene variations and asthma, Crohn's disease, and chronic polyarthritis. "The low levels of IL-4 and IL-10 we observed in the patients with chronic widespread pain might therefore also be caused by genetic alterations either in the cytokine genes themselves or in regulatory elements, although other factors may be involved," the authors state.
The authors acknowledge that this study on 6 key cytokines does not exclude the possibility that other cytokines may play a role in chronic widespread pain. While they acknowledge that low levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines may be a consequence of chronic widespread pain and its treatment, they favor the hypothesis that these proteins actually play a role in the pathophysiology of chronic widespread pain. "Once confirmed and validated in further studies," they conclude, "cytokine expression patterns may eventually help in supporting the diagnosis of chronic widespread pain and in guiding the appropriate treatment approach."
Amy Molnar | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy