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”
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.
“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