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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 May 2023 - 2 Jun 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Genetics, Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Sex Differences


2023 May 13

J Clin Med




Sex Differences in Opioid Response Linked to OPRM1 and COMT genes DNA Methylation/Genotypes Changes in Patients with Chronic Pain.


Agulló L, Muriel J, Margarit C, Escorial M, Garcia D, Herrero MJ, Hervás D, Sandoval J, Peiró AM


Analgesic-response variability in chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) has been reported due to several biological and environmental factors. This study was undertaken to explore sex differences linked to and DNA methylation changes and genetic variants in analgesic response. A retrospective study with 250 real-world CNCP outpatients was performed in which data from demographic, clinical, and pharmacological variables were collected. DNA methylation levels (CpG island) were evaluated by pyrosequencing, and their interaction with the (A118G) and (G472A) gene polymorphisms was studied. A priori-planned statistical analyses were conducted to compare responses between females and males. Sex-differential DNA methylation was observed to be linked to lower opioid use disorder (OUD) cases for females ( = 0.006). Patients with lower DNA methylation and the presence of the mutant G-allele reduced opioid dose requirements ( = 0.001), equal for both sexes. Moreover, DNA methylation levels were negatively related to pain relief ( = 0.020), quality of life ( = 0.046), and some adverse events (probability > 90%) such as constipation, insomnia, or nervousness. Females were, significantly, 5 years older with high anxiety levels and a different side-effects distribution than males. The analyses demonstrated significant differences between females and males related to signalling efficiency and OUD, with a genetic-epigenetic interaction in opioid requirements. These findings support the importance of sex as a biological variable to be factored into chronic pain-management studies.