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1.  Neuropathic pain phenotyping by international consensus (NeuroPPIC) for genetic studies: a NeuPSIG systematic review, Delphi survey, and expert panel recommendations 
Pain  2015;156(11):2337-2353.
Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.
NeuPSIG proposes a consensus-based standardised approach to phenotyping neuropathic pain for genetic studies in humans and guidelines for reporting the phenotyping of cases and controls.
For genetic research to contribute more fully to furthering our knowledge of neuropathic pain, we require an agreed, valid, and feasible approach to phenotyping, to allow collaboration and replication in samples of sufficient size. Results from genetic studies on neuropathic pain have been inconsistent and have met with replication difficulties, in part because of differences in phenotypes used for case ascertainment. Because there is no consensus on the nature of these phenotypes, nor on the methods of collecting them, this study aimed to provide guidelines on collecting and reporting phenotypes in cases and controls for genetic studies. Consensus was achieved through a staged approach: (1) systematic literature review to identify all neuropathic pain phenotypes used in previous genetic studies; (2) Delphi survey to identify the most useful neuropathic pain phenotypes and their validity and feasibility; and (3) meeting of experts to reach consensus on the optimal phenotype(s) to be collected from patients with neuropathic pain for genetic studies. A basic “entry level” set of phenotypes was identified for any genetic study of neuropathic pain. This set identifies cases of “possible” neuropathic pain, and controls, and includes: (1) a validated symptom-based questionnaire to determine whether any pain is likely to be neuropathic; (2) body chart or checklist to identify whether the area of pain distribution is neuroanatomically logical; and (3) details of pain history (intensity, duration, any formal diagnosis). This NeuroPPIC “entry level” set of phenotypes can be expanded by more extensive and specific measures, as determined by scientific requirements and resource availability.
PMCID: PMC4747983  PMID: 26469320
Neuropathic pain; Genetics; Phenotype; Systematic review; Delphi survey
2.  Structural and functional interactions between six-transmembrane μ-opioid receptors and β2-adrenoreceptors modulate opioid signaling 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:18198.
The primary molecular target for clinically used opioids is the μ-opioid receptor (MOR). Besides the major seven-transmembrane (7TM) receptors, the MOR gene codes for alternatively spliced six-transmembrane (6TM) isoforms, the biological and clinical significance of which remains unclear. Here, we show that the otherwise exclusively intracellular localized 6TM-MOR translocates to the plasma membrane upon coexpression with β2-adrenergic receptors (β2-ARs) through an interaction with the fifth and sixth helices of β2-AR. Coexpression of the two receptors in BE(2)-C neuroblastoma cells potentiates calcium responses to a 6TM-MOR ligand, and this calcium response is completely blocked by a selective β2-antagonist in BE(2)-C cells, and in trigeminal and dorsal root ganglia. Co-administration of 6TM-MOR and β2-AR ligands leads to substantial analgesic synergy and completely reverses opioid-induced hyperalgesia in rodent behavioral models. Together, our results provide evidence that the heterodimerization of 6TM-MOR with β2-AR underlies a molecular mechanism for 6TM cellular signaling, presenting a unique functional responses to opioids. This signaling pathway may contribute to the hyperalgesic effects of opioids that can be efficiently blocked by β2-AR antagonists, providing a new avenue for opioid therapy.
PMCID: PMC4676002  PMID: 26657998
3.  Differential Regulation of 6- and 7-Transmembrane Helix Variants of μ-Opioid Receptor in Response to Morphine Stimulation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(11):e0142826.
The pharmacological effect of opioids originates, at the cellular level, by their interaction with the μ-opioid receptor (mOR) resulting in the regulation of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels and inwardly rectifying K+ channels that ultimately modulate the synaptic transmission. Recently, an alternative six trans-membrane helix isoform of mOR, (6TM-mOR) has been identified, but its function and signaling are still largely unknown. Here, we present the structural and functional mechanisms of 6TM-mOR signaling activity upon binding to morphine. Our data suggest that despite the similarity of binding modes of the alternative 6TM-mOR and the dominant seven trans-membrane helix variant (7TM-mOR), the interaction with morphine generates different dynamic responses in the two receptors, thus, promoting the activation of different mOR-specific signaling pathways. We characterize a series of 6TM-mOR-specific cellular responses, and observed that they are significantly different from those for 7TM-mOR. Morphine stimulation of 6TM-mOR does not promote a cellular cAMP response, while it increases the intracellular Ca2+ concentration and reduces the cellular K+ conductance. Our findings indicate that 6TM-mOR has a unique contribution to the cellular opioid responses. Therefore, it should be considered as a relevant target for the development of novel pharmacological tools and medical protocols involving the use of opioids.
PMCID: PMC4640872  PMID: 26554831
4.  Epistasis Between Polymorphisms in COMT, ESR1, and GCH1 Influences COMT Enzyme Activity and Pain 
Pain  2014;155(11):2390-2399.
Abnormalities in the enzymatic activity of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) contribute to chronic pain conditions, such as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Thus, we sought to determine the effects of polymorphisms in COMT and functionally-related pain genes in the COMT pathway (estrogen receptor 1: ESR1, guanosine-5-triphosphate cyclohydrolase 1: GCH1, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase: MTHFR) on COMT enzymatic activity, musculoskeletal pain, and pain-related intermediate phenotypes among TMD cases and healthy controls. Results demonstrate that the COMT rs4680 (val158met) polymorphism is most strongly associated with outcome measures, such that individuals with the minor A allele (met) exhibit reduced COMT activity, increased TMD risk, and increased musculoskeletal pain. Epistatic interactions were observed between the COMT rs4680 polymorphism and polymorphisms in GCH1 and ESR1. Among individuals with the COMT met allele, those with two copies of the GCH1 rs10483639 minor G allele exhibit normalized COMT activity and increased mechanical pain thresholds. Among individuals with the COMT val allele, those with two copies of the ESR1 rs3020377 minor A allele exhibit reduced COMT activity, increased bodily pain, and poorer self-reported health. These data reveal that the GCH1 minor G allele confers a protective advantage among met carriers, while the ESR1 minor A allele is disadvantageous among val carriers. Furthermore, these data suggest that the ability to predict the downstream effects of genetic variation on COMT activity is critically important to understanding the molecular basis of chronic pain conditions.
PMCID: PMC4253645  PMID: 25218601
catecholamines; gene-gene interaction; gene expression; temporomandibular disorders (TMD); fibromyalgia
5.  Carbonic Anhydrase-8 Regulates Inflammatory Pain by Inhibiting the ITPR1-Cytosolic Free Calcium Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0118273.
Calcium dysregulation is causally linked with various forms of neuropathology including seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, spinal cerebellar ataxia (SCA) and chronic pain. Carbonic anhydrase-8 (Car8) is an allosteric inhibitor of inositol trisphosphate receptor-1 (ITPR1), which regulates intracellular calcium release fundamental to critical cellular functions including neuronal excitability, neurite outgrowth, neurotransmitter release, mitochondrial energy production and cell fate. In this report we test the hypothesis that Car8 regulation of ITPR1 and cytoplasmic free calcium release is critical to nociception and pain behaviors. We show Car8 null mutant mice (MT) exhibit mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) from MT also demonstrate increased steady-state ITPR1 phosphorylation (pITPR1) and cytoplasmic free calcium release. Overexpression of Car8 wildtype protein in MT nociceptors complements Car8 deficiency, down regulates pITPR1 and abolishes thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity. We also show that Car8 nociceptor overexpression alleviates chronic inflammatory pain. Finally, inflammation results in downregulation of DRG Car8 that is associated with increased pITPR1 expression relative to ITPR1, suggesting a possible mechanism of acute hypersensitivity. Our findings indicate Car8 regulates the ITPR1-cytosolic free calcium pathway that is critical to nociception, inflammatory pain and possibly other neuropathological states. Car8 and ITPR1 represent new therapeutic targets for chronic pain.
PMCID: PMC4347988  PMID: 25734498
6.  Complex multilocus effects of catechol-O-methyltransferase haplotypes predict pain and pain interference 6 weeks after motor vehicle collision 
Neuromolecular medicine  2013;16(1):83-93.
Catechol-O-methyltransferase, encoded by COMT gene, is the primary enzyme that metabolizes catecholamines. COMT haplotypes have been associated with vulnerability to persistent non-traumatic pain. In this prospective observational study, we investigated the influence of COMT on persistent pain and pain interference with life functions after motor vehicle collision (MVC) in 859 European American adults for whom overall pain (0–10 numeric rating scale) and pain interference (Brief Pain Inventory) were assessed at week 6 after MVC. Ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the COMT gene were successfully genotyped, nine were present in three haploblocks: block 1 (rs2020917, rs737865, rs1544325), block 2 (rs4633, rs4818, rs4680, rs165774) and block 3 (rs174697, rs165599). After adjustment for multiple comparisons, haplotype TCG from block 1 predicted decreased pain interference (p =.004). The pain-protective effect of the low pain sensitivity (LPS, CGGG) haplotype from block 2 was only observed if at least one TCG haplotype was present in block 1 (haplotype × haplotype interaction p=.002 and <.0001 for pain and pain interference, respectively). Haplotype AG from block 3 was associated with pain and interference in males only (sex × haplotype interaction p=.005 and .0005, respectively). These results suggest that genetic variants in the distal promoter are important contributors to the development of persistent pain after MVC, directly and via the interaction with haplotypes in the coding region of the gene.
PMCID: PMC3946256  PMID: 23963787
Catechol-O-methyltransferase; musculoskeletal pain; motor vehicle collision; stress
7.  Differential expression of the alternatively-spliced OPRM1 isoform MOR-1K in HIV-infected subjects 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(1):19-30.
We previously examined the expression of specific C-terminal μ-opioid receptor (MOR) splice variants in human central nervous system cell types and HIV-infected brain tissue from subjects with neurocognitive impairment ± HIV encephalitis (HIVE). In the present study, we examined the N-terminal splice variant MOR-1K which mediates excitatory cellular signaling.
Methods and Results
We found segregation of expression ranging from undetectable to seemingly exclusive across nervous system cell types compared to the pool of C-terminal MOR splice variants using RT-PCR. Expression of MOR-1K mRNA was also increased in HIV-infected subjects with combined neurocognitive impairment and HIVE compared to the other groups. MOR-1K expression correlated with the level of subject neurocognitive impairment whereas the pool of C-terminal MOR splice variants did not. HIVE was also associated with increased expression of the inflammatory mediators MCP-1, MCP-2, and RANTES, but not the host HIV co-receptors CXCR4 and CCR5 or the CD4 receptor, using qRT-PCR. Network analysis of microarray data from these same subjects revealed filamin A (FLNA) as a possible interaction partner with MOR-1K, and FLNA gene expression was also found to be upregulated in HIVE using qRT-PCR. Overexpression of filamin A in HEK293 cells redistributed MOR-1K from intracellular compartments to the cell surface.
These results suggest that HIVE, and neurocognitive impairment depending on its severity, are associated with enhanced MOR-1K signaling through both increased expression and trafficking to the cell surface, which may alter the contribution of MOR receptor isoforms and exacerbate the effects of MOR activation in neuroAIDS.
PMCID: PMC3939043  PMID: 24413261
μ opioid receptor; splice variant; HIV; gene regulation; neural cell type; neurocognition; HIV encephalitis
8.  Translational research in the genomic era: OPPERA study 
Molecular Pain  2014;10(Suppl 1):O1.
PMCID: PMC4304348  PMID: 25521492
11.  Study Protocol, Sample Characteristics, and Loss to Follow-Up: The OPPERA Prospective Cohort Study 
The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society  2013;14(12 0):10.1016/j.jpain.2013.06.006.
When studying incidence of pain conditions such as temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), repeated monitoring is needed in prospective cohort studies. However, monitoring methods usually have limitations and, over a period of years, some loss to follow-up is inevitable. The OPPERA prospective cohort study of first-onset TMD screened for symptoms using quarterly questionnaires and examined symptomatic participants to definitively ascertain TMD incidence. During the median 2.8-year observation period, 16% of the 3,263 enrollees completed no follow-up questionnaires, others provided incomplete follow-up, and examinations were not conducted for one third of symptomatic episodes. Although screening methods and examinations were found to have excellent reliability and validity, they were not perfect. Loss to follow-up varied according to some putative TMD risk factors, although multiple imputation to correct the problem suggested that bias was minimal. A second method of multiple imputation that evaluated bias associated with omitted and dubious examinations revealed a slight underestimate of incidence and some small biases in hazard ratios used to quantify effects of risk factors. Although “bottom line” statistical conclusions were not affected, multiply-imputed estimates should be considered when evaluating the large number of risk factors under investigation in the OPPERA study.
These findings support the validity of the OPPERA prospective cohort study for the purpose of investigating the etiology of first-onset TMD, providing the foundation for other papers investigating risk factors hypothesized in the OPPERA project.
PMCID: PMC3855654  PMID: 24275220
Temporomandibular joint disorders; cohort studies; population statistics; epidemiologic methods; proportional hazards models
12.  Psychological Factors Associated with Development of TMD: the OPPERA Prospective Cohort Study 
The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society  2013;14(12 0):10.1016/j.jpain.2013.06.009.
Case-control studies have consistently associated psychological factors with chronic pain in general and with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) specifically. However, only a handful of prospective studies has explored whether pre-existing psychological characteristics represent risk factors for first-onset TMD. The current findings derive from the prospective cohort study of the Orofacial Pain Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA) cooperative agreement. For this study, 3,263 TMD-free participants completed a battery of psychological instruments assessing general psychological adjustment and personality, affective distress, psychosocial stress, somatic symptoms, and pain coping and catastrophizing. Study participants were then followed prospectively for an average of 2.8 years to ascertain cases of first-onset of TMD, and 2,737 provided follow-up data and were considered in the analyses of TMD onset. In bivariate and demographically-adjusted analyses, several psychological variables predicted increased risk of first-onset TMD, including reported somatic symptoms, psychosocial stress, and affective distress. Principal component analysis of 26 psychological scores was used to identify latent constructs, revealing four components: stress and negative affectivity, global psychological and somatic symptoms, passive pain coping, and active pain coping. In multivariable analyses, global psychological and somatic symptoms emerged as the most robust risk factor for incident TMD. These findings provide evidence that measures of psychological functioning can predict first-onset of TMD. Future analyses in the OPPERA cohort will determine whether these psychological factors interact with other variables to increase risk for TMD onset and persistence.
PMCID: PMC3855656  PMID: 24275225
temporomandibular disorders; psychological risk factors; chronic pain; somatic symptoms; psychosocial stress
13.  Clinical orofacial characteristics associated with risk of first-onset TMD: the OPPERA prospective cohort study 
The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society  2013;14(12 0):10.1016/j.jpain.2013.07.018.
Case-control studies have documented clinical manifestations of chronic temporomandibular disorders (TMD), whereas clinical predictors of TMD development are largely unknown. We evaluated 41 clinical orofacial characteristics thought to predict first-onset TMD in a prospective cohort study of U.S. adults aged 18-44 years. During the median 2.8-year follow-up period, 2,737 people completed quarterly screening questionnaires. Those reporting symptoms were examined and 260 people were identified with first-onset TMD. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression models quantified associations between baseline clinical orofacial measures and TMD incidence. Significant predictors from baseline self-report instruments included oral parafunctions, prior facial pain and its life-impact, TMJ noises and jaw locking, and non-specific orofacial symptoms. Significant predictors from the baseline clinical examination were pain on jaw opening and pain from palpation of masticatory, neck, and body muscles. Examiner assessments of TMJ noise and tooth wear facets did not predict incidence. In multivariate analysis, non-specific orofacial symptoms, pain from jaw opening and oral parafunctions predicted TMD incidence. The results indicate that only a few orofacial examination findings influenced TMD incidence, and only to a modest degree. More pronounced influences were found for self-reported symptoms, particularly those that appeared to reflect alterations to systems beyond the masticatory tissues.
PMCID: PMC3855658  PMID: 24275222
temporomandibular disorders; cohort studies; trauma; parafunction; pain
14.  Genetic variants associated with development of TMD and its intermediate phenotypes: the genetic architecture of TMD in the OPPERA prospective cohort study 
The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society  2013;14(12 0):10.1016/j.jpain.2013.09.004.
Genetic risk factors are believed to combine with environmental exposures and contribute to risk of developing temporomandibular disorder (TMD). In this prospective cohort study, 2,737 people without TMD were assessed for common genetic variation in 358 genes known to contribute to nociceptive pathways, inflammation, and affective distress. During a median follow-up period of 2.8 years, 260 people developed first-onset TMD. Hazard ratios (HRs) were computed as measures of association between 2,924 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and TMD incidence. After correction for multiple testing, no single SNP was significantly associated with risk of onset TMD. However, several SNPs exceeded Bonferroni correction for multiple comparison or false discovery rate thresholds (FDR=0.05, 0.1, or 0.2) for association with intermediate phenotypes shown to be predictive of TMD onset. Non-specific orofacial symptoms were associated with voltage-gated sodium channel, type 1 alpha subunit (SCN1A, rs6432860, p=2.77×10−5) and angiotensin-I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2, rs1514280, p=4.86×10−5), global psychological symptoms with prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 1 (PTGS1, rs3842803, p=2.79×10−6), stress and negative affectivity with amyloid-β (A4) precursor protein (APP, rs466448, p=4.29×10−5), and heat pain temporal summation with multiple PDZ domain protein (MPDZ, rs10809907, p=3.05×10−5). The use of intermediate phenotypes for complex pain diseases revealed new genetic pathways influencing risk of TMD.
PMCID: PMC3855664  PMID: 24275226
temporomandibular disorders; genetic risk factors; incidence; chronic pain; intermediate phenotypes
15.  Summary of Findings from the OPPERA Prospective Cohort Study of Incidence of First-Onset Temporomandibular Disorders: Implications and Future Directions 
The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society  2013;14(12 0):10.1016/j.jpain.2013.09.010.
Papers in this volume investigate when and how putative risk factors influence development of first-onset, painful temporomandibular disorders (TMD). The results represent first findings from the OPPERA prospective cohort study which monitored 2,737 men and women aged 18–44 years recruited at four U.S. study sites. During a median 2.8 year follow-up period, 260 participants developed TMD. The average incidence rate of 4% per annum was influenced by a broad range of phenotypic risk factors including sociodemographic characteristics, health status, clinical orofacial factors, psychological functioning, pain sensitivity and cardiac autonomic responses. A novel method of multivariable analysis used random forest models to simultaneously evaluate contributions of all 202 phenotypic variables. Variables from the health status domain made the greatest contribution to TMD incidence, followed closely by psychological and clinical orofacial domains. However, only a few measures of pain sensitivity and autonomic function contributed to TMD incidence, and their effects were modest. Meanwhile, age and study site were independent predictors of TMD incidence, even after controlling for other phenotypes. Separate analysis of 358 genes that regulate pain found several novel genetic associations with intermediate phenotypes which, themselves, are risk factors for TMD, suggesting new avenues to investigate biological pathways contributing to TMD.
PMCID: PMC3857103  PMID: 24275219
Temporomandibular Disorders; Cohort Studies; Epidemiology; Psychological Factors; Clinical Pain; Comordid Conditions; Pain Sensitivity; Genetics
16.  Signs and Symptoms of First-Onset TMD and Sociodemographic Predictors of Its Development: The OPPERA Prospective Cohort Study 
The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society  2013;14(12 0):10.1016/j.jpain.2013.07.014.
Although cross-sectional studies of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) often report elevated prevalence in young women, they do not address the risk of its development. Here we evaluate sociodemographic predictors of TMD incidence in a community-based prospective cohort study of U.S. adults. Symptoms and pain-related disability in TMD cases are also described. People aged 18 to 44 years with no history of TMD were enrolled at 4 study sites when they completed questionnaires about sociodemographic characteristics. During the median 2.8-year follow-up period, 2,737 participants completed quarterly screening questionnaires. Those reporting symptoms were examined clinically and 260 had first-onset TMD. Additional questionnaires asked about severity and impact of their symptoms. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression models quantified associations between sociodemographic characteristics and TMD incidence. First-onset TMD developed in 3.9% of participants per annum, typically producing mild to moderate levels of pain and disability in cases. TMD incidence was positively associated with age, whereas females had only slightly greater incidence than males. Compared to whites, Asians had lower TMD incidence whereas African Americans had greater incidence, although the latter was attenuated somewhat after adjusting for satisfaction with socioeconomic circumstances.
In this study of 18- to 44-year-olds, TMD developed at a higher rate than reported previously for similar age groups. TMD incidence was positively associated with age but weakly associated with gender, thereby differing from demographic patterns of prevalence found in some cross-sectional studies. Experiences related to aging merit investigation as etiologic influences on development of TMD.
PMCID: PMC3857109  PMID: 24275221
Temporomandibular joint disorders; prospective cohort studies; demography; socioeconomic factors; population characteristics
17.  Pain Sensitivity and Autonomic Factors Associated with Development of TMD: the OPPERA Prospective Cohort Study 
Multiple studies report that individuals with chronic temporomandibular disorder (TMD) have enhanced sensitivity to experimental pain. Additionally, chronic TMD cases show altered autonomic function, including elevated heart rate and reduced heart rate variability. However, causal inferences regarding the association between TMD and pain sensitivity and autonomic function cannot be drawn from these cross-sectional observations. The prospective OPPERA study examines whether measures of pain sensitivity or cardiac autonomic function provide predictive value in TMD incidence. A cohort of 2,737 initially TMD-free people was followed for up to 5.2 years, during which time 260 developed first-onset TMD. Fourteen of 39 experimental pain measures produced significant hazard ratios, such that greater pain sensitivity was associated with greater TMD incidence. A single autonomic measure – heart rate at rest – was also associated significantly with greater TMD incidence. In contrast, using the same measures of pain sensitivity and cardiac autonomic function, we previously reported a larger group of variables that was significantly associated with chronic TMD in the OPPERA case-control study. Future studies should investigate whether premorbid pain sensitivity or autonomic function more specifically predicts risk of developing chronic TMD than first-onset TMD.
PMCID: PMC3955992  PMID: 24275224
Quantitative Sensory Testing; Temporomandibular Joint Disorders; orofacial pain; heat pain; pressure pain; cardiovascular measures
18.  Multivariable modeling of phenotypic risk factors for first-onset TMD: the OPPERA prospective cohort study 
Incidence of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) was predicted with multivariable models that used putative risk factors collected from initially TMD-free individuals in the Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA) study. The 202 baseline risk factors included sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, measures of general health status, experimental pain sensitivity, autonomic function, and psychological distress. Study participants (n=2,737) were then followed prospectively for a median of 2.8 years to ascertain cases of first-onset TMD. Lasso regression and random forest models were used to predict incidence of first-onset TMD using all of the aforementioned measures. Variable importance scores identified the most important risk factors, and their relationship with TMD incidence was illustrated graphically using partial dependence plots. Two of the most important risk factors for elevated TMD incidence were greater numbers of comorbid pain conditions and greater extent of non-specific orofacial symptoms. Other important baseline risk factors were pre-existing bodily pain, heightened somatic awareness, and greater extent of pain in response to examiners’ palpation of the head, neck and body. Several demographic variables persisted as risk factors even after adjusting for other OPPERA variables, suggesting that environmental variables not measured in OPPERA may also contribute to first-onset TMD.
PMCID: PMC4036699  PMID: 24275218
chronic pain; multivariable analysis; data mining; OPPERA; temporomandibular disorders
19.  Facial pain with localized and widespread manifestations: separate pathways of vulnerability 
Pain  2013;154(11):10.1016/j.pain.2013.07.009.
Human association studies of common genetic polymorphisms have identified many loci that are associated with risk of complex diseases, although individual loci typically have small effects. However, by envisaging genetic associations in terms of cellular pathways, rather than any specific polymorphism, combined effects of many biologically-relevant alleles can be detected. The effects are likely to be most apparent in investigations of phenotypically-homogenous subtypes of complex diseases. We report findings from a case-control, genetic association study of relationships between 2,925 SNPs and two subtypes of a commonly occurring chronic facial pain condition, temporomandibular disorder (TMD): 1) localized TMD; and 2) TMD with widespread pain. When compared to healthy controls, cases with localized TMD differed in allelic frequency of SNPs that mapped to a serotonergic receptor pathway (P=0.0012), while cases of TMD with widespread pain differed in allelic frequency of SNPs that mapped to a T-cell receptor pathway (P=0.0014). A risk index representing combined effects of six SNPs from the serotonergic pathway was associated with greater odds of localized TMD (odds ratio = 2.7, P=1.3×10−9), and the result was reproduced in a replication case-control cohort study of 639 people (odds ratio = 1.6, P=0.014). A risk index representing combined effects of eight SNPs from the T-cell receptor pathway was associated with greater odds of TMD with widespread pain (P=1.9×10−8), although the result was not significant in the replication cohort. These findings illustrate potential for clinical classification of chronic pain based on distinct molecular profiles and genetic background.
PMCID: PMC3808468  PMID: 23867732
Temporomandibular disorder; human genetics; serotonergic receptor; case-control study
20.  Multisystem Dysregulation in Painful Temporomandibular Disorders 
Multiple physiological and psychological regulatory domains may contribute to the pathophysiology of pain in temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and other bodily pain conditions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between multisystem dysregulation and the presence of TMD pain, as well as the presence of different numbers of comorbid pain conditions in TMD. Secondary data analysis was conducted in 131 non-TMD (without comorbid pain) controls, 14 TMD subjects without comorbid pain, 78 TMD subjects with 1 comorbid pain, and 67 TMD subjects with multiple comorbid pain conditions who participated in a TMD genetic study. Twenty markers from sensory, autonomic, inflammatory, and psychological domains were evaluated. The results revealed that 1) overall dysregulation in multiple system domains (OR [odds ratio] = 1.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4–1.8), particularly in the sensory (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3–2.9) and the psychological (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 2.1–2.7) domains, were associated with increased likelihood of being a painful TMD case; and 2) dysregulations in individual system domains were selectively associated with the increased odds of being a TMD case with different levels of comorbid persistent pain conditions. These outcomes indicate that heterogeneous multisystem dysregulations may exist in painful TMD subgroups, and multidimensional physiological and psychological assessments can provide important information regarding pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management of pain in TMD patients.
The concurrent assessment of multiple physiological and psychological systems is critical to our understanding of the pathophysiological processes that contribute to painful TMD and associated comorbid conditions, which will ultimately guide and inform appropriate treatment strategies that address the multisystem dysregulation associated with complex and common persistent pain conditions.
PMCID: PMC3770463  PMID: 23721875
Temporomandibular disorders; multisystem dysregulation; comorbid pain conditions; headache
21.  Polymorphisms in the glucocorticoid receptor co-chaperone FKBP5 predict persistent musculoskeletal pain after traumatic stress exposure 
Pain  2013;154(8):1419-1426.
Individual vulnerability factors influencing the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis may contribute to the risk of the development of persistent musculoskeletal pain after traumatic stress exposure. The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between polymorphisms in the gene encoding FK506 binding protein 51, FKBP5, a glucocorticoid receptor co-chaperone, and musculoskeletal pain severity six weeks after two common trauma exposures. The study included data from two prospective emergency department-based cohorts: a discovery cohort (n=949) of European Americans experiencing motor vehicle collision and a replication cohort of adult European American women experiencing sexual assault (n=53). DNA was collected from trauma survivors at the time of initial assessment. Overall pain and neck pain six weeks after trauma exposure were assessed using a 0–10 numeric rating scale. After adjustment for multiple comparisons, six FKBP5 polymorphisms showed significant association (minimum p <0.0001) with both overall and neck pain in the discovery cohort. The association of rs3800373, rs9380526, rs9394314, rs2817032, and rs2817040 with neck pain and/or overall pain six weeks after trauma was replicated in the sexual assault cohort, showing the same direction of the effect in each case. The results of this study indicate that genetic variants in FKBP5 influence the severity of musculoskeletal pain symptoms experienced during the weeks after motor vehicle collision and sexual assault. These results suggest that glucocorticoid pathways influence the development of persistent post-traumatic pain, and that such pathways may be a target of pharmacologic interventions aimed at improving recovery after trauma.
PMCID: PMC3699900  PMID: 23707272
22.  Molecular Assays for Characterization of Alternatively Spliced Isoforms of the Mu Opioid Receptor (MOR) 
Mu-opioid receptor (MOR) belongs to a family of heptahelical G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Studies in humans and rodents demonstrated that the OPRM1 gene coding for MOR undergoes extensive alternative splicing afforded by the genetic complexity of OPRM1. Evidence from rodent studies also demonstrates an important role of these alternatively spliced forms in mediating opiate analgesia via their differential signaling properties. MOR signaling is predominantly Giα coupled. Release of the α subunit from G-protein complex results in the inhibition of adenylyl cyclase/cAMP pathway, whereas release of the βγ subunits activates G-protein-activated inwardly rectifying potassium channels and inhibits voltage-dependent calcium channels. These molecular events result in the suppression of cellular activities that diminish pain sensations. Recently, a new isoform of OPRM1, MOR3, has been identified that shows an increase in the production of nitric oxide (NO) upon stimulation with morphine. Hence, there is a need to describe molecular techniques that enable the functional characterization of MOR isoforms. In this review, we describe the methodologies used to assay key mediators of MOR activation including cellular assays for cAMP, free Ca2+, and NO, all of which have been implicated in the pharmacological effects of MOR agonists.
PMCID: PMC3991784  PMID: 20336438
Alternative splicing; OPRM1; Opioid; Calcium; cAMP; Nitric oxide; Fluo-4; Fluo-3; GPCR; FSK; Capsaicin
23.  The phenotypic and genetic signatures of common musculoskeletal pain conditions 
Nature reviews. Rheumatology  2013;9(6):340-350.
Musculoskeletal pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and low back pain, tend to coexist in affected individuals and are characterized by a report of pain greater than expected based on the results of a standard physical evaluation. The pathophysiology of these conditions is largely unknown, we lack biological markers for accurate diagnosis, and conventional therapeutics have limited effectiveness. Growing evidence suggests that chronic pain conditions are associated with both physical and psychological triggers, which initiate pain amplification and psychological distress; thus, susceptibility is dictated by complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Herein, we review phenotypic and genetic markers of common musculoskeletal pain conditions, selected based on their association with musculoskeletal pain in previous research. The phenotypic markers of greatest interest include measures of pain amplification and ‘psychological’ measures (such as emotional distress, somatic awareness, psychosocial stress and catastrophizing). Genetic polymorphisms reproducibly linked with musculoskeletal pain are found in genes contributing to serotonergic and adrenergic pathways. Elucidation of the biological mechanisms by which these markers contribute to the perception of pain in these patients will enable the development of novel effective drugs and methodologies that permit better diagnoses and approaches to personalized medicine.
PMCID: PMC3991785  PMID: 23545734
24.  Correlation of transcription of MALAT-1, a novel noncoding RNA, with deregulated expression of tumor suppressor p53 in small DNA tumor virus models 
Journal of cancer therapy  2013;4(3):10.4236/jct.2013.43094.
Although metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript (MALAT)-1 is known to be consistently upregulated in several epithelial malignancies, little is known about its function or regulation. We therefore examined the relationship between MALAT-1 expression and candidate modulators such as DNA tumor virus oncoproteins human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 E6 and E7, BK virus T antigen (BKVTAg), mouse polyoma virus middle T antigen (MPVmTAg) and tumor suppressor genes p53 and pRb. Using suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH) and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays, MALAT-1 was shown to be increased in viral oncongene-expressing salivary gland biopsies from humans and mice. The results also indicated that MALAT-1 transcripts and promoter activity were increased in vitro when viral oncongene-expressing plasmids were introduced into different cell types. These same viral oncogenes in addition to increasing MALAT-1 transcription have also been shown to inhibit p53 and/or pRb function. In p53 mutant or inactive cell lines MALAT-1 was also shown to be highly upregulated. We hypothesize that there is a correlation between MALAT-1 over-expression and p53 deregulation. In conclusion, we show that disruption of p53, by both polyoma and papilloma oncoproteins appear to play an important role in the up-regulation of MALAT-1. MALAT-1 might therefore represent a biomarker for p53 deregulation within malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3808111  PMID: 24163781
p53; MALAT-1; transcription; BK virus; polyoma virus; papillomavirus; HPV
25.  Relationship between Temporomandibular Disorders, Widespread Palpation Tenderness and Multiple Pain Conditions: A Case - Control Study 
The multiple bodily pain conditions in temporomandibular disorders (TMD) have been associated with generalized alterations in pain processing. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the presence of widespread body palpation tenderness (WPT) and the likelihood of multiple comorbid pain conditions in TMD patients and controls. This case-control study was conducted in 76 TMD subjects with WPT, 83 TMD subjects without WPT, and 181 non-TMD matched control subjects. The study population was also characterized for clinical pain, experimental pain sensitivity, and related psychological phenotypes. Results showed that (1) TMD subjects reported an average of 1.7 comorbid pain conditions compared to 0.3 reported by the control subjects (p<0.001); (2) Compared to control subjects, the odds ratio (OR) for multiple comorbid pain conditions is higher for TMD subjects with WPT [OR 8.4 (95% CI 3.1–22.8) for TMD with WPT versus OR 3.3 (95% CI 1.3–8.4) for TMD without WPT]; (3) TMD subjects with WPT presented with reduced pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) in both cranial and extra-cranial regions compared to TMD subjects without WPT; and (4) TMD subjects with WPT reported increased somatic symptoms. These findings suggest that pain assessment outside of the orofacial region may prove valuable for the classification, diagnosis, and management of TMD patients.
PMCID: PMC3475612  PMID: 23031401
TMD; temporomandibular disorders; palpation tenderness; multiple pain conditions; comorbid

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