Genes may determine your pain threshold

Apr 21 2014, 13:02 IST
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Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain. Reuters Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain. Reuters
SummaryWonder why some people have a lower tolerance for pain than others? Genes may be to blame!

Wonder why some people have a lower tolerance for pain than others? Genes may be to blame!

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a new study.

They found that nine per cent of the participants had low pain perception, 46 per cent had moderate while as 45 per cent had high pain perception.

ďOur study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance levels," said study author Tobore Onojjighofia, with Proove Biosciences and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Identifying whether a person has these four genes could help doctors better understand a patient's perception of pain," said Onojjighofia.

Researchers evaluated 2,721 people diagnosed with chronic\ pain for certain genes. Participants were taking prescriptio opioid pain medications. The genes involved were COMT, DRD2, DRD1 and OPRK1.

The participants also rated their perception of pain on a scale from zero to 10. People who rated their pain as zero were not included in the study.

Low pain perception was defined as a score of one, two orthree; moderate pain perception was a score of four, five or six; and high pain perception was a score of seven, eight, nine or 10.

Nine per cent of the participants had low pain perception, 46 per cent had moderate pain perception and 45 per cent had high pain perception.

The researchers found that the DRD1 gene variant was 33 per cent more prevalent in the low pain group than in the high pain group.

Among people with a moderate pain perception, the COMT and OPRK variants were 25 per cent and 19 per cent more often found than in those with a high pain perception.

The DRD2 variant was 25 per cent more common among those with a high pain perception compared to people with moderate pain.

"Finding genes that may be play a role in pain perception could provide a target for developing new therapies and help physicians better understand their patients' perceptions of pain," Onojjighofia said.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

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