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Papers of the Week

2022 Nov 18

Medicine (Baltimore)



Plasma proteins from several components of the immune system differentiate chronic widespread pain patients from healthy controls – an exploratory case-control study combining targeted and non-targeted protein identification.


Chronic widespread pain (CWP), including fibromyalgia (FM), is characterized by generalized musculoskeletal pain and hyperalgesia. Plasma proteins from proteomics (non-targeted) and from targeted inflammatory panels (cytokines/chemokines) differentiate CWP/FM from controls. The importance of proteins obtained from these two sources, the protein-protein association network, and the biological processes involved were investigated. Plasma proteins from women with CWP (n = 15) and CON (n = 23) were analyzed using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis analysis and a multiplex proximity extension assay for analysis of cytokines/chemokines. Associations between the proteins and group were multivarietly analyzed. The protein-protein association network and the biological processes according to the Gene Ontology were investigated. Proteins from both sources were important for group differentiation; the majority from the two-dimensional gel electrophoresis analysis. 58 proteins significantly differentiated the two groups (R2 = 0.83). A significantly enriched network was found; biological processes were acute phase response, complement activation, and innate immune response. As with other studies, this study shows that plasma proteins can differentiate CWP from healthy subjects. Focusing on cytokines/chemokines is not sufficient to grasp the peripheral biological processes that maintain CWP/FM since our results show that other components of the immune and inflammation systems are also highly significant.