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Eur J Pain. 2012 Oct;16(9):1232-42. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00131.x. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Genetic variation in the beta-2 adrenergic receptor is associated with chronic musculoskeletal complaints in adolescents.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.



There is significant evidence to suggest that psychological and stress-related factors are important predictors of the onset of chronic widespread pain (CWP) and fibromyalgia (FM). The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, together with the efferent sympathetic/adrenomedullary system, influence all body organs (including muscles) during short- and long-term threatening stimuli. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between genetic variants in adrenergic candidate genes and chronic musculoskeletal complaints (MSCs) in adolescents.


Adolescents from the Western Australian Pregnancy (Raine) Cohort attending the 17-year cohort review completed a questionnaire containing a broad range of psychosocial factors and pain assessment (n = 1004). Blood samples were collected for DNA extraction and genotyping. Genotype data was obtained for 14 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in two candidate genes - beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) and catecholamine-O-methyltransferase (COMT). Haplotypes were reconstructed for all individuals with genotype data.


Both female gender and poor mental health were associated with (1) an increased risk for chronic, disabling comorbid neck and low back pain (CDCP); and (2) an increase in the number of areas of pain. Of the 14 SNPs evaluated, only SNP rs2053044 (ADRB2, recessive model) displayed an association with CDCP [odds ratio (OR) = 2.49; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.25, 4.98; p = 0.01] and pain in three to four pain areas in the last month (OR = 1.86; 95% CI = 1.13, 3.06; p = 0.02). These data suggest that genetic variants in ADRB2 may be involved in chronic MSCs.

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