Background: Research suggests that the COMT Val158Met, BDNF Val66Met and OPRM1 A118G polymorphisms moderate the experience of pain. In order to obtain experimental confirmation and extension of findings, cortical processing of experimentally-induced pain was used. - Method: A sample of 78 individuals with chronic low back pain complaints and 37 healthy controls underwent EEG registration. Event-Related Potentials were measured in response to electrical nociceptive stimuli and moderation by COMT Val158Met, BDNF Val66Met and OPRM1 A118G polymorphisms was assessed. - Results: Genetic variation did not have a direct effect on cortical processing of experimental pain. However, genetic effects (COMT Val158Met and BDNF Val66Met) on experimental pain were moderated by the presence of chronic pain. In the presence of chronic pain, the COMT Met allele and the BDNF Met allele augmented cortical pain processing, whilst reducing pain processing in pain-free controls. No significant effects were found concerning the OPRM1 A118G polymorphism. - Conclusions: The current study suggests that chronic experience of pain enhances genetic sensitivity to experimentally induced mildly painful stimuli, possibly through a process of epigenetic modification.
- BSS-Biomechatronics and rehabilitation technology
- epigenetic modification
- experimental pain
- Cortical processing