Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2019 Jul 5;14(7):e0219311. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219311. eCollection 2019.

Differences in the miRNA signatures of chronic musculoskeletal pain patients from neuropathic or nociceptive origins.

Author information

Institute for Research in Rehabilitation, Clinique Romande de Réadaptation, Sion, Switzerland.
Department of Medical Research, Clinique Romande de Réadaptation, Sion, Switzerland.
Department of Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Clinique Romande de Réadaptation, Sion, Switzerland.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Orthopedic Hospital, University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Haute Ecole Arc Santé, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.



The quality of life for millions of people worldwide is affected by chronic pain. In addition to the effect of chronic pain on well-being, chronic pain has also been associated with poor health conditions and increased mortality. Due to its multifactorial origin, the classification of pain types remains challenging. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small molecules that regulate gene expression. They are released into the bloodstream in a stable manner under normal and pathological conditions and have been described as potential biomarkers. In the present study, we aimed to investigate whether pain may induce an aberrant, specific dysregulation of miRNA expression, depending on the origin of the pain.


To do so, we measured the expression changes of 184 circulating miRNAs (c-miRNAs) in the plasma samples of patients with different origins of chronic musculoskeletal pain. After statistical analyses, we identified seven c-miRNA candidates that were differentially expressed depending on the nociceptive or neuropathic origin of the pain. We then developed a two c-miRNA signature (hsa-miR-320a and hsa-miR-98-5p) that was able to correctly classify the pain type of 70% of the patients from the validation set.


In conclusion, circulating miRNAs are promising biomarkers to identify and characterize the chronic pain type and to further improve its clinical management.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center