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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Nov 2023 - 24 Nov 2023

2023 Nov 19

J Pain


Sex differences in the serum proteomic profile during acute low back pain – A preliminary study of the relationship to future low back pain.


Jenkins LC, Chang WJ, Humburg P, Wasinger VC, Stone LS, Dorsey SG, Renn C, Starkweather A, Schabrun SM


The molecular processes driving the transition from acute to chronic low back pain (LBP) remain poorly understood and are likely to be sexually dimorphic. This study aimed to explore sex-differences in the serum proteomic profile of people experiencing an acute LBP episode and determine if serum protein concentrations were associated with three-month outcome. Serum samples were collected through venepuncture from 30 female and 29 male participants experiencing an acute LBP episode. Serum samples underwent trypsin digestion and fractionation using hydrophobic interaction chromatography and were then analysed using mass-spectrometry (MS). MS spectra were searched in the Swissprot database for protein identification. Sex differences in protein abundance changes were evident upon inspection of fold changes. Multivariable data analysis identified 21 serum proteins during the acute episode that correctly classified 93% of males and 23 serum proteins that correctly classified 90% of females with ongoing LBP at three months. Pathway analysis suggested the differentially expressed proteins during acute LBP were frequently involved in immune, inflammatory, complement or coagulation responses. This data provides preliminary evidence that biological processes during an acute LBP episode may contribute to resolution, or persistence, of LBP symptoms at three months, however, these processes differ between males and females. PERSPECTIVE: Differential expression of serum proteins was observed between male and female participants during an acute LBP episode. This preliminary work provides a foundation for future research targeting distinct immune system processes in males and females that may interfere with the transition from acute to chronic LBP.