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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Sep 2023 - 15 Sep 2023

Geriatric, Review

Human Studies, Neurobiology

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Sep 08

Mol Pain


Pain and Aging: A unique challenge in neuroinflammation and behavior.


Singh S, Guindon J, Mody P, Kopel J, Chilakapati S, Adogwa O, Neugebauer V, Burton MDD, Arandia G


Chronic pain is one of the most common, costly, and potentially debilitating health issues facing older adults, with attributable costs exceeding $600 billion annually. The prevalence of pain in humans increases with advancing age. Yet, the contributions of sex differences, age-related chronic inflammation, and changes in neuroplasticity to the overall experience of pain are less clear, given that opposing processes in aging interact. This review article examines and summarizes pre-clinical research and clinical data on chronic pain among older adults to identify knowledge gaps and provide the base for future research and clinical practice. We provide evidence to suggest that neurodegenerative conditions engender a loss of neural plasticity involved in pain response, whereas low-grade inflammation in aging increases CNS sensitization but decreases PNS sensitivity. Insights from preclinical studies are needed to answer mechanistic questions. However, the selection of appropriate aging models presents a challenge that has resulted in conflicting data regarding pain processing and behavioral outcomes that is difficult to translate to humans.