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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023


Genetics, Human Studies, Neurobiology



Front Genet



Candidate gene association study suggests potential role of dopamine beta-hydroxylase in pain heterogeneity in sickle cell disease.


Sadhu N, He Y, Yao Y, Wilkie DJ, Molokie RE, Wang ZJ


Pain is a lifelong companion of individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) and has a severe impact on their quality of life. Both acute crisis pain and chronic non-crisis pain exhibit high variability between individuals, making it difficult to effectively manage sickle cell-related pain. We investigated the role of dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) gene polymorphisms on pain variability in SCD. DBH is a key enzyme in the catecholamine biosynthesis pathway that catalyzes the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, both of which are known mediators of pain and pain-related behaviors. Acute crisis pain-related utilization and non-crisis chronic pain scores of 131 African Americans with SCD were obtained. Association analyses revealed that the T allele of upstream variant rs1611115 and downstream variant rs129882 correlated with higher severity of chronic pain in an additive model. On the other hand, the A allele of missense variant rs5324 associated with lower risk of both acute crisis pain and chronic pain. Similarly, the C allele of intronic variant rs2797849 was associated with lower incidence of acute crisis pain in the additive model. In addition, tissue-specific eQTL revealed that the T allele of rs1611115 correlated with decreased expression of in the frontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (GTEx), and decreased expression of in blood (eQTLGen). Bioinformatic approaches predicted that rs1611115 may be altering a transcription factor binding site, thereby, contributing to its potential effect. Taken together, findings from this study suggest that potential functional polymorphisms of may modulate pain perception in SCD.