MicroRNAs as biomarkers of pain intensity in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, by Hadeel A Al‐Rawaf, Ahmad H Alghadir, Sami A Gabr in Pain Pract. 2019 Jul 8. doi: 10.1111/papr.12817. [Epub ahead of print]

Research abstract:


Numerous experimental models have shown that microRNAs play an important role in regulating pain-processing in clinical pain disorders. In this study, we evaluated a set of micro-RNAs as diagnostic biomarkers of pain intensity in adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). We then correlated the expression of these microRNAs with the levels of inflammatory markers and pain-related comorbidities in adolescents with CSF and healthy controls (HCs).


A total of 150 adolescents, aged 12-18 years, participated in this study between April 2016 and April 2017. The participants were classified into two groups: adolescents with CFS (n=100) and HCs (n=50). RT-PCR was used to evaluate the expression of miR-558, miR-146a, miR-150, miR-124, and miR-143. Immunoassay analysis was used to assess the levels of immune inflammatory markers IL-6, TNF-α, and COX-2.


Adolescents with CFS showed significantly higher pain thresholds than comparable non-fatigued HCs. Also, enjoy of life and relation to others as the life domains, showed lower pain interference in CFS patients. Differential expression of miR-558, miR-146a, miR-150, miR-124, and miR-143 was significantly down regulated and notably interfered with pain intensity and frequency in patients with CFS. Also, the expression of these miRNAs was significantly correlated with that of IL-6, TNF-α, and COX-2, which have been shown to mediate pain intensity in patients with CFS.

Girls with CSF showed significantly decreased expression levels of these miRNAs compared with the levels of boys with CSF. Girls with CSF also showed increased expression of inflammatory pain-related markers IL-6, TNF-α, and COX-2, compared with the levels of boys with CSF


The intensity and consequences of pain were influenced by differential expression of miR-558, miR-146a, miR-150, miR-124, and miR-143, which was directly, associated with higher expression of immune inflammatory related genes TNFα, IL-6, and COX-2 in adolescences with CFS. Further studies of larger patient cohorts will help clarify the role of miRNAs in the pathogenesis of CFS.

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