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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 Aug 2022 - 2 Sep 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Aug 13

Int J Mol Sci



The Role of Inflammation, Hypoxia, and Opioid Receptor Expression in Pain Modulation in Patients Suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.


Kaczmarski P, Karuga F F, Szmyd B, Sochal M, Białasiewicz P, Strzelecki D, Gabryelska A
Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Aug 13; 23(16).
PMID: 36012341.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a relatively common disease in the general population. Besides its interaction with many comorbidities, it can also interact with potentially painful conditions and modulate its course. The association between OSA and pain modulation has recently been a topic of concern for many scientists. The mechanism underlying OSA-related pain connection has been linked with different pathophysiological changes in OSA and various pain mechanisms. Furthermore, it may cause both chronic and acute pain aggravation as well as potentially influencing the antinociceptive mechanism. Characteristic changes in OSA such as nocturnal hypoxemia, sleep fragmentation, and systemic inflammation are considered to have a curtailing impact on pain perception. Hypoxemia in OSA has been proven to have a significant impact on increased expression of proinflammatory cytokines influencing the hyperalgesic priming of nociceptors. Moreover, hypoxia markers by themselves are hypothesized to modulate intracellular signal transduction in neurons and have an impact on nociceptive sensitization. Pain management in patients with OSA may create problems arousing from alterations in neuropeptide systems and overexpression of opioid receptors in hypoxia conditions, leading to intensification of side effects, e.g., respiratory depression and increased opioid sensitivity for analgesic effects. In this paper, we summarize the current knowledge regarding pain and pain treatment in OSA with a focus on molecular mechanisms leading to nociceptive modulation.