Central Sensitization (CS) facilitates and maintains chronic pain. Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is arguably the most important protein known to induce CS, and is massively released during exercise. Pain symptoms worsen in patients with chronic widespread pain (CWP) in response to exercise.
Hypothesis: BDNF changes account for pain worsening in patients with CWP following exercise.
Methods: We will explore the gene that encodes for BDNF, the mechanisms that influence the gene expression (epigenetics), and the actual expression of BDNF.
Study 1 will be a cross-sectional study, in which we compare CWP patients and healthy controls. Both groups will complete questionnaires about their symptoms and undergo blood withdrawal for the genetic and epigenetic analysis. Finally, we will examine the subject’s pain thresholds, as an objective measure of CS.
Study 2 will apply a true randomized controlled design to unravel causality. Patients with CWP will be randomized in two groups. The experimental group will undergo a session of aerobic exercise. The control group will undergo emotional stress. Before and after the intervention, subjects are re-assessed as described for Study 1. Two follow-ups are set to detect fluctuations of epigenetic modification.
Perspective: Epigenetics led to huge advancements in the understanding and treatment of various chronic illnesses. The present project will be one of the first in the world to explore epigenetics in people with chronic pain.
Effective start/end date1/10/1730/09/21

    Flemish discipline codes

  • Neuropsychology

    Research areas

  • Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor

ID: 34683475