From medical News todayResearchers at the University of Michigan Health System have found a key linkage between pain and a specific brain molecule, a discovery that lends new insight into fibromyalgia, an often-baffling chronic pain condition.
In patients with fibromyalgia, researchers found, pain decreased when levels of the brain molecule called glutamate went down. The results of this study, which appears in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, could be useful to researchers looking for new drugs that treat fibromyalgia, the authors say.
"If these findings are replicated, investigators performing clinical treatment trials in fibromyalgia could potentially use glutamate as a 'surrogate' marker of disease response," says lead author Richard E. Harris, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the U-M Medical School's Department of Internal Medicine and a researcher at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue .Research .Center. . '
Following the four weeks of treatment, both clinical and experimental pain reported were reduced significantly. More importantly the reduction in both pain outcomes was linked with reductions in glutamate levels in the insula: patients with greater reductions in pain showed greater reductions in glutamate. This suggests that glutamate may play a role in this disease and that it could potentially be used as a biomarker of disease severity.
Because of the small number of participants in this study, further research should be conducted to verify the role of glutamate in fibromyalgia, Harris says.