Chronic Pain Affects 100s to 1000s of Genes

Studying DNA from rat brains and white blood cells, researchers from McGill University "found that chronic pain changes the way DNA is marked not only in the brain but also in T cells” essential for immunity, says Moshe Szyf, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill. Szyf continues, stating that there is a “devastating impact of chronic pain on other important parts of the body such as the immune system." Epigenetics involves modifications that turn genes 'on' or 'off' effectively reprogramming how they work.

Researchers examined the DNA, using a method that mapped DNA marking by a chemical called a methyl group. The “methyl marks are important for regulating how these genes function," explains co-author Laura Stone, a professor in Dentistry and researcher in the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain. This sort of chemical marking is part of the growing field of epigenetics.

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