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Emotional modulation of muscle pain is associated with polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene

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The perception of pain is determined by a combination of genetic, neurobiological, cultural, and emotional factors. Recent studies have demonstrated an association between specific genotypes and pain perception. Particular focus has been given to the triallelic polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene in relation to pain perception. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the modulatory effect of emotions mediated by visual stimuli on muscular pain perception is genotype dependent. A total of 150 healthy subjects were selected on the basis of their polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene. First, visual conditioning was performed with positive, negative, and neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System, and the unpleasantness/pleasantness of the pictures was rated. Second, visual conditioning stimuli were presented while experimental jaw muscle pain was evoked by injection of hypertonic saline into the masseter muscle, and participants continuously rated pain intensity on an electronic visual analog scale. The pictures induced similar changes in emotions across the 3 genotype groups, and hypertonic saline evoked moderate pain levels in all participants. However, in participants with a high expression of the serotonin transporter protein, conditioning with negative pictures increased pain intensity and positive pictures decreased pain intensity when compared with neutral pictures. In contrast, there were no significant effects of the pictures on pain perception in participants with neither intermediate nor low expression of the protein. These results suggest that polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene play an important role in emotions modulation of muscle pain.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPain
Vol/bind154
Nummer8
Sider (fra-til)1469-1476
ISSN0304-3959
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2013

Bibliografisk note

Epub 14 May.

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