Genetic contributions to pain: A review of findings in humans

College of Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA.
Oral Diseases (Impact Factor: 2.43). 12/2008; 14(8):673-82. DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2008.01458.x
Source: PubMed


Pain represents the major motivating factor for which individuals seek healthcare, and pain responses are characterized by substantial inter-individual differences. Increasing evidence suggests that genetic factors contribute significantly to individual differences in responses to both clinical and experimental pain. The purpose of this review article was to summarize the current literature regarding genetic contributions to pain, highlighting findings relevant to oral pain where available. A brief discussion of methodologic considerations is followed by a review of findings regarding genetic influences on clinical pain. Next, the literature examining genetic contributions to experimental pain responses is presented, emphasizing genetic associations that have been replicated in multiple cohorts. It is hoped that an enhanced understanding of genetic contributions to pain responses will ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment of clinical pain conditions.

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Available from: Roland Staud, Mar 12, 2014
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    • "It is thus highly probable that the thermal pain experience is affected by genetic variants in one or more of the pathways involved in the thermal pain signaling. The relative contribution of the different genes to the variance in clinical and experimental pain responses remains unknown [14]. Preclinical evidence, as well as gene association studies in animals and humans, suggests that the genetic contributions to pain perception vary across pain modalities [15] [16] [17]. "
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    ABSTRACT: It is suggested that genetic variations explain a significant portion of the variability in pain perception; therefore, increased understanding of pain-related genetic influences may identify new targets for therapies and treatments. The relative contribution of the different genes to the variance in clinical and experimental pain responses remains unknown. It is suggested that the genetic contributions to pain perception vary across pain modalities. For example, it has been suggested that more than 60% of the variance in cold pressor responses can be explained by genetic factors; in comparison, only 26% of the variance in heat pain responses is explained by these variations. Thus, the selection of pain model might markedly influence the magnitude of the association between the pain phenotype and genetic variability. Thermal pain sensation is complex with multiple molecular and cellular mechanisms operating alone and in combination within the peripheral and central nervous system. It is thus highly probable that the thermal pain experience is affected by genetic variants in one or more of the pathways involved in the thermal pain signaling. This review aims to present and discuss some of the genetic variations that have previously been associated with different experimental thermal pain models.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · BioMed Research International
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    • "parental modeling of pain responding during childhood ). Twin studies of clinical pain syndromes [30] [31] [32] and of experimental pain sensitivity [33] [34] [35] [36] have shown that genetics play a moderate to large role in both clinical and evoked pain. There is also evidence that chronic pain symptoms and symptoms of anxiety and depression are mediated by shared genetic factors [37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Pain is a complex phenomenon influenced by context and person-specific factors. Affective dimensions of pain involve both enduring personality traits and fleeting emotional states. We examined how personality traits and emotional states are linked with clinical and evoked pain in a twin sample. Methods: 99 female twin pairs were evaluated for clinical and evoked pain using the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and dolorimetry, and completed the 120-item International Personality Item Pool (IPIP), the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), and ratings of stress and mood. Using a co-twin control design we examined a) the relationship of personality traits and emotional states with clinical and evoked pain and b) whether genetics and common environment (i.e. familial factors) may account for the associations. Results: Neuroticism was associated with the sensory component of the MPQ; this relationship was not confounded by familial factors. None of the emotional state measures was associated with the MPQ. PANAS negative affect was associated with lower evoked pressure pain threshold and tolerance; these associations were confounded by familial factors. There were no associations between IPIP traits and evoked pain. Conclusions: A relationship exists between neuroticism and clinical pain that is not confounded by familial factors. There is no similar relationship between negative emotional states and clinical pain. In contrast, the relationship between negative emotional states and evoked pain is strong while the relationship with enduring personality traits is weak. The relationship between negative emotional states and evoked pain appears to be non-causal and due to familial factors.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Journal of Psychosomatic Research
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    • "In fact, despite numerous molecular genetic studies of personality, putative findings usually fail to be replicated, and little if anything has been firmly established [2] [22]. A failure to replicate previous results has also been a challenge in molecular genetic studies of pain sensitivity [14] [58], although more consistent findings for some candidate gene associations have been claimed. Thus, although our findings provide evidence that some of the genes that influence N5: Impulsiveness and E5: Excitement-Seeking might also impact pain sensitivity , it is far too early to speculate as to what genes and gene processes are involved. "
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    ABSTRACT: Factors underlying individual differences in pain responding are incompletely understood, but are likely to include genetic influences on basal pain sensitivity in addition to demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and ethnicity, and psychological factors including personality. This study sought to explore the relationship between personality traits and experimental pain sensitivity, and to determine to what extent the covariances between these phenotypes are mediated by common genetic and environmental factors. A sample composed of 188 twins, ages 23 to 35years, was included in the study. Heat pain intensity (HPI) and cold-pressor pain intensity (CPI) ratings were obtained using standardized pain testing procedures, and personality traits were assessed with the NEO Personality Inventory, Revised. Associations between personality and the pain sensitivity indices were examined using zero-order correlations and generalized estimating equations. Bivariate Cholesky models were used in the biometric analyses. The most robust finding was a significant phenotypic association between CPI and the personality facets Impulsiveness (a facet of Neuroticism) and Excitement-Seeking (a facet of Extraversion), and estimates of the genetic correlation were .37 (P<.05) and .43 (P<.05), respectively. In contrast, associations between HPI and personality seemed weak and unstable, but a significant effect of Angry Hostility (a facet of Neuroticism) emerged in generalized estimating equations analysis. Although the genetic correlation between these phenotypes was essentially zero, a weak but significant individual-specific environmental correlation emerged (re=.21, P<.05). Taken together, these findings suggest that CPI is more consistently related to personality dispositions than HPI, both phenotypically and genetically.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Pain
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