Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pain In Fibromyalgia Is Linked To Changes In Brain Molecule

Date:
March 13, 2008
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
Researchers have found a key linkage between pain and a specific brain molecule, a discovery that lends new insight into fibromyalgia, an often-baffling chronic pain condition.

In this image, the boxes show where regions of the posterior insula have neural activity that are associated with glutamate levels.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Michigan Health System

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have found a key linkage between pain and a specific brain molecule, a discovery that lends new insight into fibromyalgia, an often-baffling chronic pain condition.

Related Articles


In patients with fibromyalgia, researchers found, pain decreased when levels of the brain molecule called glutamate went down. The results of this study, which appears in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, could be useful to researchers looking for new drugs that treat fibromyalgia, the authors say.

"If these findings are replicated, investigators performing clinical treatment trials in fibromyalgia could potentially use glutamate as a 'surrogate' marker of disease response," says lead author Richard E. Harris, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the U-M Medical School's Department of Internal Medicine and a researcher at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.

The molecule glutamate is a neurotransmitter, which means it conveys information between neurons in the nervous system. When glutamate is released from one neuron, it diffuses across the space between cells, and then binds to receptors on the next neuron in line and causes the cell to become excited, or to be more active.

This molecule was suspected to play a role in fibromyalgia because previous studies had shown that some brain regions in fibromyalgia patients appear to be highly excited. One such region is the insula.

In functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, researchers at U-M had previously shown that the insula displays augmented activity in fibromyalgia, which means neurons in these patients are more active in this part of the brain. The U-M team hypothesized, Harris notes, that more activity among these neurons might be related to the level of glutamate in this region.

To gauge the linkage between pain and glutamate, the researchers used a non-invasive brain imaging techinique called proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H-MRS). H-MRS was performed once before and once following a four-week course of acupuncture or "sham" acupuncture.

Researchers used either acupuncture or sham acupuncture to reduce pain symptoms. The sham procedure involved using a sharp device to prick the skin in order to mimic real acupuncture sensations.

Following the four weeks of treatment, both clinical and experimental pain reported were reduced significantly. More importantly the reduction in both pain outcomes was linked with reductions in glutamate levels in the insula: patients with greater reductions in pain showed greater reductions in glutamate. This suggests that glutamate may play a role in this disease and that it could potentially be used as a biomarker of disease severity.

Because of the small number of participants in this study, further research should be conducted to verify the role of glutamate in fibromyalgia, Harris says.

The senior author of the study was Daniel J. Clauw, M.D., director of the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. Other authors were Richard H. Gracely, Ph.D., and Seong-Ho Kim, M.D., of the U-M Department of Internal Medicine; Pia C. Sundgren, M.D., Ph.D., Yuxi Pang, Ph.D., and Myria Petrou, M.D., of the U-M Department of Radiology; Michael Hsu, M.D., of the U-M Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; and Samuel A. McLean, M.D., of the U-M Department of Emergency Medicine.

Funding came from a Department of Army grant, the National Institutes of Health, and the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Reference: Arthritis and Rheumatism, March 2008, Volume 58, Issue 3, "Dynamic Levels of Glutamate within the Insula are Associated with Improvements in Multiple Pain Domains in Fibromyalgia."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Pain In Fibromyalgia Is Linked To Changes In Brain Molecule." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310112658.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2008, March 13). Pain In Fibromyalgia Is Linked To Changes In Brain Molecule. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310112658.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Pain In Fibromyalgia Is Linked To Changes In Brain Molecule." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310112658.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins