Analgesic Cytokine Levels Down in Those with Pain

Study finds lower levels of IL-4 and IL-10 in chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia

THURSDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic widespread pain conditions including fibromyalgia are associated with lower levels of the analgesic cytokines interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10, according to a report in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

To determine if cytokine profiles differ in patients with chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia, Nurcan Uceyler, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Wurzburg, Germany, measured messenger RNA and serum protein levels of IL-4, IL-10, and other cytokines in 40 affected patients, 26 of whom had fibromyalgia, and 40 age- and sex-matched healthy controls.

Expression of IL-4 and IL-10 was lower in patients with chronic widespread pain than in the controls by as much as 24 percent and 52 percent, respectively, and correlated with lower serum protein levels. Their finding was confirmed in a group of 15 additional patients from a different center who also suffer from chronic pain.

The authors suspect the lower cytokine levels have a pathophysiological role in chronic widespread pain in humans since each has been shown to reduce behavioral signs of pain in animal studies. "Once confirmed and validated in further studies, cytokine expression patterns may eventually help in supporting the diagnosis of chronic widespread pain and in guiding the appropriate treatment approach," they write.

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