New Study of Twins Enhances Understanding of Genetic Influence

A study published online last month in the journal Pain found that different chronic pain syndromes share genetic risk factors. The study of twins found that chronic widespread pain (CWP), chronic pelvic pain (CPP), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and dry eye disease were more likely to co-occur than expected by chance, a result best explained by a shared genetic predisposition. The findings could point the way to new genetic targets for pain treatment.

Chronic pain syndromes comprise collections of diffuse symptoms that have no apparent pathology to explain the pain. Clustering of the disorders in the same people suggests they stem from the same underlying problems. Whether these reflect genetic or environmental influences can be addressed by twin studies. This study compared the occurrences of 5 pain disorders in monozygotic twins, who are genetically identical and share the same environment, to that in dizygotic twins, who share 50 percent of their genes and the same environment, to help isolate the amount of risk due to genetic versus environmental factors. A news story about the study may be read here. Read the journal abstract here.

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