Researches identify gene linked with chronic pain susceptibility

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have identified a gene, linked with susceptibility to chronic pain resulting, from nerve injury in humans.

An international team of researchers that included professor Marshall Devor of the Hebrew University and Canadian and European scientists used two fine-mapping approaches to narrow down the chromosomal locus to an interval of 155 genes and by applying bioinformatics approaches and whole genome microarray analysis, have been able to confidently identify a single gene, Cacgn2, as the likely candidate.

To further test the potential role for Cacgn2 in chronic pain, the researchers a mouse strain harbouring the gene's mutant version that had been earlier used in epilepsy research.

In their tests on mice for behavioural and electrophysiological characteristics of chronic pain, they found that, the observations correlated with a functional role for Cacgn2 in pain, even though this occurred at a modest scale.

However, according to experts, it remains to be seen whether the results are also valid in case of the human version of the gene.

In their analysis of a cohort of breast cancer patients who experienced chronic pain six months or more following the removal of partial removal of a breast, they found that the genetic variants of Accng2 were significantly associated with the chronic pain.

"The immediate significance is the mere awareness that differences in pain perception may have a genetic predisposition. Our discovery may provide insights for treating chronic pain through previously unthought-of mechanisms," explained professor Ariel Darvasi of HU's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences.