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Patient pain threshold 'decided by four genes'

Four genes may help decide a person’s pain threshold, according to US researchers.

Scientists studied the genes COMT, DRD2, DRD1, and OPRK1, in 2,721 people diagnosed with chronic pain.

“Identifying whether a person has these four genes could help doctors better understand a patient’s perception of pain”

Tobore Onojjighofia

Participants rated their perception of pain as “low”, “moderate” or “high” on a scale from one to 10.

One gene, DRD1, was 33% more prevalent in the low pain group than in the high pain group, the researchers found.

DRD2 was 25% more common among those with high pain than those with moderate pain.

People in the “moderate” group were 25% more likely to have COMT and 19% more likely to have OPRK genes than those in the “high” group.

In total, 9% of participants had a low level of pain perception, while 46% had moderate pain and 45% high pain. All were taking opioid drugs for pain relief.

Study leader Dr Tobore Onojjighofia, from the US pain management company Proove Biosciences, said: “Our study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance levels.

Pain threshold 'decided by genes'

“Identifying whether a person has these four genes could help doctors better understand a patient’s perception of pain,” he said.

He added: “Chronic pain can affect every other part of life. Finding genes that may be play a role in pain perception could provide a target for developing new therapies.”

The findings will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia.

  • P4.349: “Perception of Analgesia in Narcotic Users with Chronic Pain: A Multi-Center Cross-Sectional Study Comparing Genotype to Pain VAS (P.A.I.N. Study)” Tobore Onojjighofia, Baltimore, MD

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