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Papers: 14 May 2022 - 20 May 2022

2022 May 03

Int J Mol Sci



Machine Learning and Pathway Analysis-Based Discovery of Metabolomic Markers Relating to Chronic Pain Phenotypes.


Miettinen T, Nieminen AI, Mäntyselkä P, Kalso E, Lötsch J
Int J Mol Sci. 2022 May 03; 23(9).
PMID: 35563473.


Recent scientific evidence suggests that chronic pain phenotypes are reflected in metabolomic changes. However, problems associated with chronic pain, such as sleep disorders or obesity, may complicate the metabolome pattern. Such a complex phenotype was investigated to identify common metabolomics markers at the interface of persistent pain, sleep, and obesity in 71 men and 122 women undergoing tertiary pain care. They were examined for patterns in d = 97 metabolomic markers that segregated patients with a relatively benign pain phenotype (low and little bothersome pain) from those with more severe clinical symptoms (high pain intensity, more bothersome pain, and co-occurring problems such as sleep disturbance). Two independent lines of data analysis were pursued. First, a data-driven supervised machine learning-based approach was used to identify the most informative metabolic markers for complex phenotype assignment. This pointed primarily at adenosine monophosphate (AMP), asparagine, deoxycytidine, glucuronic acid, and propionylcarnitine, and secondarily at cysteine and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as informative for assigning patients to clinical pain phenotypes. After this, a hypothesis-driven analysis of metabolic pathways was performed, including sleep and obesity. In both the first and second line of analysis, three metabolic markers (NAD, AMP, and cysteine) were found to be relevant, including metabolic pathway analysis in obesity, associated with changes in amino acid metabolism, and sleep problems, associated with downregulated methionine metabolism. Taken together, present findings provide evidence that metabolomic changes associated with co-occurring problems may play a role in the development of severe pain. Co-occurring problems may influence each other at the metabolomic level. Because the methionine and glutathione metabolic pathways are physiologically linked, sleep problems appear to be associated with the first metabolic pathway, whereas obesity may be associated with the second.