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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Nov 2023 - 1 Dec 2023

2023 Nov 30

Brain Behav Evol


Exaptation and Evolutionary Adaptation in Nociceptor Mechanisms Driving Persistent Pain.


Walters ET


Several evolutionary explanations have been proposed for why chronic pain is a major clinical problem. One is that some mechanisms important for driving chronic pain, while maladaptive for modern humans, were adaptive because they enhanced survival. Evidence is reviewed for persistent nociceptor hyperactivity (PNH), known to promote chronic pain in rodents and humans, being an evolutionarily adaptive response to significant bodily injury, and primitive molecular mechanisms related to cellular injury and stress being exapted (co-opted or repurposed) to drive PNH and consequent pain.