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Estrogen Plays An Important Role In Determining How Sensitive A Person Is To Pain

Date:
August 13, 2007
Source:
Karolinska Institutet
Summary:
Estrogen plays an important role in determining how sensitive a person is to pain, and the estrogen receptor known as ER-beta is particularly significant in this context. These are the conclusions of a recent study. "This may mark the beginning of the production of a new class of analgesic drugs", says one of the scientists.
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Estrogen plays an important role in determining how sensitive a person is to pain, and the estrogen receptor known as ER-beta is particularly significant in this context. These are the conclusions of a study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet, published in PNAS.

"This may mark the beginning of the production of a new class of analgesic drugs", says Professor Jan-Åke Gustafsson, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition.

Earlier studies have shown that estrogen affects how we experience pain, but the mechanisms behind this have been unclear. Estrogen can bind to two different receptors, known as ER-alpha and ER-beta, and the new study describes results obtained concerning the expression of these two receptors in the spinal cord.

The results show that ER-beta plays an important role in the development of the part of the spinal cord that contains nerve fibres that carry information to the brain. These nerves are important in several functions, including determining how sensitive a person is to pain, and response to sensation in general. ER-beta is the dominant estrogen receptor during the development of the embryo. The researchers also showed that neuronal development occurs later in mice that lack ER-beta, and that ER-beta is important in the spinal cord of the adult animal for the survival of nerve cells and for the transmission of pain and sensation.

"These results are particularly interesting in the light of preliminary results from pre-clinical studies that suggest that substances that stimulate ER-beta can give pain relief", says Jan-Åke Gustafsson.

Publication: Estrogen receptor beta is essential for sprouting of nociceptive primary afferents and for morphogenesis and maintenance of the dorsal horn interneurons, Xiaotang Fan, Hyun-Jin Kim, Margaret Warner, Jan-Åke Gustafsson. PNAS, Online Early Edition, 6-10 August 2007


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The above story is based on materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Karolinska Institutet. "Estrogen Plays An Important Role In Determining How Sensitive A Person Is To Pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070812094428.htm>.
Karolinska Institutet. (2007, August 13). Estrogen Plays An Important Role In Determining How Sensitive A Person Is To Pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070812094428.htm
Karolinska Institutet. "Estrogen Plays An Important Role In Determining How Sensitive A Person Is To Pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070812094428.htm (accessed May 23, 2015).

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