Scientific reports

Systemic differences in serum metabolome: a cross sectional comparison of women with localised and widespread pain and controls.

PMID 26522699


Chronic musculoskeletal pain exists either as localised to a single region or as widespread to multiple sites in several quadrants of the body. Prospective studies indicate that widespread pain could act as a far end of a continuum of musculoskeletal pain that started with chronic localised pain. The mechanism by which the transition from localised pain to widespread occurs is not clear, although many studies suggest it to be an altered metabolism. In this study, systemic metabolic differences between women with chronic localised neck-shoulder pain (NP), women with chronic widespread pain (CWP) and women who were healthy (CON) were assessed. Blood samples were analysed taking a metabolomics approach using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and orthogonal partial least square discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA). The metabolomics analysis showed a clear systematic difference in the metabolic profiles between the subjects with NP and the CON but only a weak systematic difference between the subjects with CWP and the CON. This most likely reflects a difference in the portion of the metabolome influenced by the two pain conditions. In the NP group, the overall metabolic profile suggests that processes related to energy utilisation and lipid metabolism could be central aspects of mechanisms maintaining disorder.