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Papers: 6 Aug 2022 - 12 Aug 2022

2022 Aug 11


Epigenetic Aging Mediates the Association between Pain Impact and Brain Aging in Middle to Older Age Individuals with Knee Pain.


Peterson JA, Strath LJ, Nodarse C L, Rani A, Huo Z, Meng L, Yoder S, Cole JH, Foster TC, Fillingim RB, Cruz-Almeida Y
Epigenetics. 2022 Aug 11.
PMID: 35950599.


Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a health burden that may accelerate the aging process. Accelerated brain aging and epigenetic aging have separately been observed in those with chronic pain. However, it is unknown whether these biological markers of aging are associated with each other in those with chronic pain. We aimed to explore the association of epigenetic aging and brain aging in middle-to-older age individuals with varying degrees of knee pain. Participants (57.91 ± 8.04 years) with low impact knee pain (n=95), high impact knee pain (n=53) and pain-free controls (n=26) completed self-reported pain, a blood draw and an MRI scan. We used an epigenetic clock previously associated with knee pain (DNAmGrimAge), the subsequent difference of predicted epigenetic and brain age from chronological age (DNAmGrimAge-Difference and Brain-PAD, respectively). There was a significant main effect for pain impact group ( (2,167) = 3.847, p = 0.023, = 0.038, ANCOVA) on Brain-PAD and DNAmGrimAge-difference ( (2,167) = 6.800, p = 0.001, = 0.075, ANCOVA) after controlling for covariates. DNAmGrimAge-Difference and Brain-PAD were modestly correlated (r=0.198; p=0.010). Exploratory analysis revealed that DNAmGrimAge-difference mediated GCPS pain impact, GCPS pain severity and pain related disability scores on Brain-PAD. Based upon the current study findings, we suggest that pain could be a driver for accelerated brain aging via epigenome interactions.