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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Nov 2022 - 25 Nov 2022

2022 Nov 24

Mol Neurobiol

The Identification of Human Translational Biomarkers of Neuropathic Pain and Cross-Species Validation Using an Animal Model.


Young B, Stephenson J, Islam B, Burke NN, Jennings EM, Finn DP, McHugh PC
Mol Neurobiol. 2022 Nov 24.
PMID: 36422814.


Neuropathic pain is a common chronic condition, which remains poorly understood. Many patients receiving treatment continue to experience severe pain, due to limited diagnostic/treatment management programmes. The development of objective clinical diagnostic/treatment strategies requires identification of robust biomarkers of neuropathic pain. To this end, we looked to identify biomarkers of chronic neuropathic pain by assessing gene expression profiles in an animal model of neuropathic pain, and differential gene expression in patients to determine the potential translatability. We demonstrated cross-species validation of several genes including those identified through bioinformatic analysis by assessing their expression in blood samples from neuropathic pain patients, according to conservative assessments of significance measured using Bonferroni-corrected p-values. These include CASP5 (p = 0.00226), CASP8 (p = 0.00587), CASP9 (p = 2.09 × 10), FPR2 (p = 0.00278), SH3BGRL3 (p = 0.00633), and TMEM88 (p = 0.00038). A ROC analysis revealed several combinations of genes to show high levels of discriminatory power in the comparison of neuropathic pain patients and control participants, of which the combination SH3BGRL3, TMEM88, and CASP9 achieved the highest level (AUROC = 0.923). The CASP9 gene was found to be common in five combinations of three genes revealing the highest levels of discriminatory power. In contrast, the gene combination PLAC8, ROMO1, and A3GALT2 showed the highest levels of discriminatory power in the comparison of neuropathic pain and nociceptive pain (AUROC = 0.919), when patients were grouped by S-LANSS scores. Molecules that demonstrate an active role in neuropathic pain have the potential to be developed into a biological measure for objective diagnostic tests, or as novel drug targets for improved pain management.