Male and Female Pain Processing Differs (in Study Mice)

In conclusions that may have profound implications for the understanding and approach to chronic pain, researchers from McGill University, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Duke University report that pain is processed differently in male vs female mice. The findings are reported online in advance of publication in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Co-senior author Jeffrey Mogil, PhD, E.P. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies at McGill University and Director of the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, commented “Research has demonstrated that men and women have different sensitivity to pain and that more women suffer from chronic pain than men, but the assumption has always been that the wiring of how pain is processed is the same in both sexes.”

Existing theory has held that pain transmission through the nervous system engages immune system cells called microglia. The current study of mice found, however, that this is only the case in males, where it was demonstrated that interfering with microglia function was effective in blocking pain. The same intervention was ineffective in female mice, because a different type of immune cell, T cells, appears to be involved in pain transmission. The authors contend that the findings will materially impact work on the development of future generations of pain medications for humans, because of the similarity in nervous system structure in mice and humans.

To watch a video about Women and Chronic Pain, with Dr. Hal Blatman, click here.

PAINWeek 2015, the national conference in Las Vegas September 8-12, will present “Fibromyalgia” and “Simplifying the Gender Specific Complexities of Female Chronic Pelvic Pain” and other topics about women and pain. For more information or to register, go to

To read more about research into women and pain, click here.

Read more about the findings mentioned above, here.

A link to the Nature Neuroscience abstract may be found here.




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