Sex Differences in Comorbid Chronic Pain and Depression Examined
Chronic neuropathic pain has a large impact on quality of life and often causes or increases depressive symptoms for both men and women.
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Chronic neuropathic pain has a large impact on quality of life and often causes or increases depressive symptoms for both men and women. However, the specific experiences caused by chronic pain can be different for male vs female patients, according to research to be presented at the 17th World Congress on Pain, held September 12-16, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Between 30% and 50% of patients with chronic neuropathic pain report comorbid depression; nearly half of those patients were female. Despite this, most clinical research on the topic uses strains of male inbred rodents, which may not produce results that can be transferred to a female population. The current study sought to identify any potential sex differences in the experience of depression for an outbred mouse strain after peripheral nerve injury.
For 4 weeks after peripheral nerve injury, male and female mice were assessed using a battery of tests to measure anxiolytic behavior, anhedonia, learned helplessness, and sensory thresholds. The results indicated that both male and female mice experienced mechanical pain sensitivity as a result of peripheral nerve injury, but only males showed induced anxiety. Both sexes experienced a depressive phenotype 2 weeks post-injury, from which the males recovered, but which persisted for the females. Although the injury failed to induce changes in sucrose preferences for either sex across all time points, there was a trend of increased latency to feed shown only in females at 4 weeks.
Study investigators concluded that their "experiments demonstrate that chronic neuropathic pain can induce sex specific changes in affect and thus demonstrates the importance of female inclusion in experiments."
Michailidis V, Cho C, Sivaselvachandran M, Acland E, Chan C, Lidhar N, Martin L. Investigating the comorbidity of chronic pain and depression. Presented at the World Congress on Pain 2018; September 12-16, 2018; Boston, MA. Poster 66342.
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