This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain.
Millions of people suffer from chronic pain around the country. It’s a condition that can be debilitating, keeping people from being able to enjoy the activities they love, as well as impacting their ability to work. Researchers continue to look for ways to address chronic pain, especially when it comes to finding chronic pain medications that are safe and effective.
Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered that the brain protein called RGS4 (Regulator of G protein signaling 4) may help play a role in chronic pain maintenance. They published the findings of their study in the October 2019 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience (1).
The study involved using male and female mice that had been genetically modified. The researchers were able to show that the protein RGS4 played a dynamic role in the recovery from acute pain, whether it was caused from nerve injury or inflammation.
Using the mice, they were able to show that by preventing RGS4, they were able to disrupt the chronic pain in the mice. The multi-functional protein is common in brain circuits that are responsible for processing motivation, pathological pain, and mood.
The research found that RGS4 may play a role in helping to keep acute pain from going into chronic pain, as well as assisting with the management of chronic pain. This provides hope for those with chronic pain, and for those who help others to manage it.
Single-target drugs, which are often used today in chronic pain management, are not an effective solution for the long term. They come with a host of negative side effects. The RGS4 route helps to target the pain and disrupt it.
Additionally, researchers gained insight into the genes and intracellular pathways of the areas that were affected by the protein. Using this information they can conduct further studies to determine the impact that RGS4 has on pain and sensory symptoms.
In the quest to continue finding ways to help people manage and address chronic pain, this study moves us one more step closer. It offers leads into therapeutic options that can be further explored and studied. Learning more about RGS4’s affect on chronic pain can help us learn to help our patients going forward.
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Journal of Neuroscience. RGS4 Maintains Chronic Pain Symptoms in Rodent Models. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/39/42/8291