Research ResourceNeuroscience

Neuropathic pain promotes adaptive changes in gene expression in brain networks involved in stress and depression

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Sci. Signal.  21 Mar 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 471, eaaj1549
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaj1549

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Molecular links between pain, stress, and depression

Chronic stress or pain is associated with the development of depression. Mouse models suggest that chronic pain from nerve injury leads to the onset of depression-like behaviors. Descalzi et al. examined gene expression changes in the brain in mouse models of nerve injury– or chronic stress–induced depression. They found some common changes in the expression of genes encoding signaling pathway components (including those involved in inflammatory signaling) that also occur in patients with depression, anxiety, and pain. Analysis of knockout mice suggested that the molecular changes may be the result of global changes in chromatin acetylation. The findings not only identify molecular links between pain, stress, and depression but also provide a resource for further investigation and potential therapeutic development.